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by Dr Joan
Published: March 2009
In recent decades, patient care has been
revolutionised by developments in science and
technology. The number of treatments now
available means that there is an increased chance of
recovery from illness as well as of staying alive.
However, patients do not always wish to be
treated in what the doctor considers the 'best way', or to have
their lives prolonged artificially.
With competent patients, treatment is
usually a matter of making a simple choice. But what happens
when they lose capacity or are unable to communicate their
treatment wishes? For this reason, many people choose to make an
At present in Ireland, there is no specific
legislation with regard to advance directives, although in
recent years several organisations have reviewed the
In this module, we will examine the current
practice when a patient lacks the capacity to participate in
healthcare decision-making. We will also look at the
recommendations that have been made by the relevant medical and
If you like this module, you may also be
capacity and decision-making ability in mental
disorder by Dr Justine
McCulloch and Dr Mark
Dementia: capacity, empowerment and conflicts of
interest by Professor Cornelius Katona and Dr Gill
Irish Mental Health Act 2001 by Dr Larkin Feeney and Dr Brendan
aspects of terminal care by Dr John Mitchell
take-home notes to print and annotate