Is it legal to treat a 73 year old male for alcohol withdrawal when he did not want it?

UPDATED: Mar 4, 2015

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Is it legal to treat a 73 year old male for alcohol withdrawal when he did not want it?

He went for chest pains and doctors without consent started detox against his will. He’s currently still hospitalized with complications.

Asked on March 4, 2015 under Malpractice Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether the detrox treatment appeared to be an urgent necessity or not. If to the doctors, it reasonably appeared,in good medical judgment, that they had to being the treatment to save his life and/or preserve his health, then they could do so. If it was not urgent, then they should have obtained his consent. Emergency treatment is generally considered or reviewed under a different standard than non-emergency.

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