Q721: Can I refuse treatment when I am in hospital?
The British Medical Association Working Party on this issue in 2001 reported:
Where a patient refuses treatment that could provide clear health benefits, and not having the treatment carries a risk of serious consequences, it is vital that doctors take time to discuss this decision with the patient. In some cases, the patient's refusal of treatment may be based on misinformation or a misunderstanding of the prognosis or side effects. The fact that an individual has made a decision that appears to others to be irrational or unjustified should not be taken as evidence that the individual lacks the mental capacity to make that decision. If, however, the decision is clearly contrary to previously expressed wishes or is based on a misperception of reality, this may be indicative of a lack of capacity and further investigation will be required. Doctors need to take time to answer patients' questions and to ascertain their real wishes and concerns.
More information is on the B.M.A. site.