Changes to advance care directives

Tuesday 13 March, 2018

Under the new Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 Victorians will be able to make advance care directives to give consent to or to refuse medical treatment in advance of losing capacity to make their own medical decisions. Advance care directives can include either a binding instructional directive, a values directive or both, and must be witnessed by a registered medical practitioner.

Any registered health practitioner or paramedic who wants to provide medical treatment to a person who does not have decision-making capacity will need to make reasonable efforts to find out whether a person has an advance care directive or a medical treatment decision maker (the new terminology for the ‘person responsible’), or both.

In emergency situations, there is no obligation to search for an advance care directive that is not readily available—although treatment must not be provided if the practitioner is aware that the person has refused the treatment or procedure, for example, in an advance care directive or a refusal of treatment certificate.  

The Act also changes how medical treatment decisions are made for people without decision-making capacity—from a ‘best interests’ approach to a substituted judgment approach, which requires that the medical treatment decision maker make the decision that they reasonably believe the person would have made for themselves.

For more information and resources watch our webinar for clinicians on the key implications for clinical practice or visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.  


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