A critical appraisal of the impact of Section 3 of the Mental Capacity Act (2005)

Paramedic's have verbalised uncertainty on how to proceed when treating unwell patients who refuse treatment, stating that they feel ill-equipped to interpret situations when patients refuse treatment. They expressed a need to be formally trained in how to systematically, yet quickly, assess a patient's capacity, rather than relying on intuition or opting out with the ‘take them to hospital’ approach, as they report it is better to face the accusation of assault or battery, than allegations of negligence.This article will explore the appropriate mechanisms and approach for the assessment of capacity in emergency situations. Capacity will be defined according to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (c.9), with an explanation of consent and the particular difficulties faced by paramedics in the assessment of capacity in an emergency will be identified and analysed.

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