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Consent to medical or dental treatment

Guardianship Division

NCAT can determine applications for consent to medical and dental treatment in certain circumstances where a person is unable to consent for themself; where there is no person responsible able to consent on their behalf; where they are objecting to their proposed treatment or their person responsible will not or cannot consent to the proposed treatment.

What is consent to medical or dental treatment?

Most patients can understand information from their doctor or dentist about their condition and proposed treatment, and can provide informed consent to treatment.

If a medical or dental practitioner believes that a patient is not capable of informed consent, they must seek consent from a substitute decision maker. This means someone who has the legal authority to make medical or dental treatment decisions on behalf of the patient.

A substitute decision maker can be:

In most cases there will be a person responsible. For more information read the 'Person responsible' fact sheet [PDF, 53kB].

When is it necessary to apply to NCAT?

An application to NCAT is necessary if:

  • the treatment is special medical treatment
  • the treatment is major medical or dental treatment and there is no person responsible or the person responsible cannot be located or is unwilling or unable to provide consent
  • the patient is objecting to the proposed treatment (major or minor) and there is no appointed guardian authorised to override objections.

It is the responsibility of the medical or dental practitioner to identify when consent is required for the proposed treatment and the category of treatment – urgent, major, minor or special. It is also the responsibility of the practitioner to identify the substitute decision-maker and to ensure that the substitute decision-maker signs the appropriate consent forms before treatment. For more information, read the 'Consent to medical or dental treatment' fact sheet [PDF, 101kB].

NCAT has power under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 to consent to special medical treatments for people under 16. For more information, read the 'Special medical treatment for people under 16 years' fact sheet [PDF, 40kB].

Applications for consent to treatment can be made by completing an application form and submitting it to the Guardianship Division. For further information contact the NCAT Guardianship Division’s enquiry service on (02) 9556 7600 or 1300 006 228.