David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Clinical Ethics 1 (1):33-36 (2006)
The Mental Capacity Act, which received Royal Assent in April 2005, will come into force in April 2007. The Act puts into statute the legality of interventions in relation to adults who lack capacity to make decisions on their own behalf. The aim of this paper is to outline the main features of the legislation and its impact on those health care professionals who provide care and treatment for incapacitated adults. The paper sets out the underlying ethical principles that govern interventions under the Act's powers and briefly explores the legal definition of incapacity and the process by which capacity is assessed. It looks at the governing notion of 'best interests' and at the legal indemnity provided by the Act for interventions that are in the best interests of an incapacitated adult. It contains sections on the Act's main innovations, including research involving incapacitated adults, lasting powers of attorney and the new Court of Protection. It also provides information on advance decisions to refuse treatment
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