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We surveyed 119 psychiatrists to see how they would act with a patient who has taken a potentially lethal overdose, has no mental illness, and is refusing treatment. There was substantial disagreement. There may be a risk of action under civil law whether the psychiatrist decides to treat the patient without his or her consent or not. The Law Commission are examining whether mental disorder, as defined in the Mental Health Act 1983, should be used as a test of incapacity to give consent to medical treatment. Such legislation would help doctors but may encourage a wide interpretation of the definition of mental disorder.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychiatric Bulletin

Publication Date





7 - 9