What an advance decision cannot do

This page describes the limits to the treatments and situations an advance decision covers.

There are some limits to the kinds of treatments and situations an advance decision covers. It cannot be used to:

  • refuse treatment if you still have the capacity to give or refuse consent
  • refuse basic care that is essential to keep you comfortable, such as washing or bathing
  • refuse food or drink by mouth (although it can be used to refuse feeding by tube)
  • refuse the use of measures designed solely to maintain comfort – for example, painkillers (which relieve pain but do not treat the underlying condition)
  • demand specific treatment
  • refuse treatment for a mental disorder in the event that you are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • request something that is against the law, such as euthanasia or assisting you in taking your own life.
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