You make your own decisions about any health care as long as you are mentally capable – that is, as long as you have the ability to understand and appreciate information relevant to making that decision.
Ontario law defines capacity as:
- Having the ability to understand information that has to do with making a decision about the treatment, admission or personal assistance service; and
- Having the ability to appreciate the likely consequences of a decision or lack of decision.
If you become mentally incapable for any particular health decision, then your SDM would be the person who would make health decisions for you.
Health practitioners are required to get your informed consent, or refusal of consent, to treatment or other health care decisions before providing treatment or other health care. If, in the opinion of the health practitioner, you are not mentally capable to make a treatment or other health care decision, then the health practitioner must get the consent or refusal from your substitute decision maker.
Who Determines Mental Capacity?
The health care provider proposing the treatment will determine if you are mentally capable of consenting to or refusing treatment. If you are found incapable, you have the right to ask the Consent and Capacity Board to review that finding. The health care provider who believes you are mentally incapable must tell you about that right of review.
What is Informed Consent?
Informed consent refers to the permission you give health care providers for medical investigations and/or treatments. It is an informed decision made after you have been given information about your current health condition and the treatment options. Health care providers are required to offer you — and you are entitled to receive — detailed explanations of the investigations/treatments including:
- their risks
- their benefits and side effects
- any alternatives to these options
- what would likely happen if you refuse the options.
Health care providers must also answer any questions you have about the treatments and the information must be provided before you give consent.