Maximisation of minors’ capacity

Author:
CAVE Emma
Journal article citation:
Child and Family Law Quarterly, 23(4), 2011, pp.431-449.
Publisher:
Jordan Publishing

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 requires doctors to take practical steps to help a person with impaired capacity make a competent medical decision. However, this legal duty does not extend to minors under the age of 16, who must prove their competence and can only make decisions in their best interests. This paper considers professional guidance in the light of recent legal developments in England and Wales which require doctors to maximise a patient’s capacity, and does not restrict its applications to adults. The paper explores the implications of this duty to the treatment of minors. It particularly looks at children on the cusp of competence, considering whether there is a duty for the doctor to present information in such a way as to help the child achieve the level of competence required by law. There may be a particular problem when a child initially refuses medical treatment. The article argues that, although it is challenging to draw a line between the child’s autonomy interests and his clinical interests, techniques designed to maximise autonomy should not be employed to force minors to concede to medical views.

Subject terms:
human rights, law, medical treatment, mental capacity, young people, children, decision making, doctors;
Location(s):
England, Wales
Link:
Journal home page
ISSN print:
1358-8184

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to use standard search filters, access resource links, advanced search and email alerts