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Comment on Re B (Adult: Refusal of Medical Treatment) [2002] 2 All England Reports 449
  1. M Stauch
  1. Correspondence to:
 M Stauch, Solicitor & Lecturer in Law, Faculty of Law, The University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK;


The judgment handed down in the case of Ms B confirms the right of the competent patient to refuse medical treatment even if the result is death. The case does, however, raise some interesting legal points. The facility for conscientious objection by doctors has not previously been explicitly recognised in case law. More importantly perhaps is that the detailed inquiry by the court into Ms B’s reasons for refusing treatment, apparently as a precondition for finding her competent, seems to contradict earlier case law where it has been asserted that competent patients can refuse treatment for no reason at all.

  • Law and medical ethics, end-of-life decisions
  • informed consent

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