Internal Code: MAS6289
Richard is 41 year-old-man who works as a fly-in-fly-out worker for a mining company in Central Queensland. Richard has worked in the mines for twelve years and is an experienced blast crew member. He has been in a relationship with Meryl for 22 years, and they have four children aged 9, 11, 13, and 15. Although his home is in Brisbane with Meryl and the children, he shares a two-bedroom unit with his best friend and crew manager Lucas every second week, while they are on-site at the mines. Richard is muscular and physically fit, as he works out in the gym nearly every day on top of his physical work in the mines. His mining crew call him ‘The Mountain’ in honour of his size and strength. It was a surprise to them, then, when partway through a scorching hot workday he announced that he simply couldn’t continue work and needed to sit down in the shade tent because he felt like he was going to collapse. Lucas took Richard over to sit in the cabin of the crew vehicle with the air conditioner on and gave him some chilled water to drink. A few minutes later Richard let himself out of the vehicle and loudly announced, he did not feel well at all.
1. What elements must be present for Richard’s consent to treatment for heat shock to be valid? What legal authority can you rely upon to support your answer? What may potential legal consequences flow if health care practitioners provide treatment without first obtaining
2. As Richard had previously refused medical treatment by the ambulance crew for his heat shock, do the paramedics have any legal authority to institute treatment for his head injury? What legal authority can you rely upon to support your answer?
3. After sustaining the head injury, Richard will not have decision-making capacity. Provide a rationale that supports the legal obligation to obtain consent for Richard’s cranio-facial surgery in these circumstances.
4. List the legal options available for the healthcare practitioners to obtain consent for Richard’s ongoing care in these circumstances. Support your answer with Queensland legal authority.
5. In circumstances where there are two or more substitute decision-makers who could potentially provide consent, and they disagree, describe the legal options available to provide a definitive answer as to what course of action the healthcare practitioners should take.
6. What factors will be taken into account when making a decision as to whether Richard’s life-sustaining measures can be withdrawn?
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