Choosing to refuse: patients' rights and psychotropic medication

Bioethics. 1988 Apr;2(2):83-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.1988.tb00039.x.


KIE: The author discusses the position of the plaintiffs in Rogers v. Okin, a legal case in which it was argued that involuntarily committed mental patients have the right to refuse psychotropic medication. She expresses reservations about paternalistic justifications for forced medication that are based on authority, on loss of autonomy by the mentally ill, on overriding autonomy for the patient's good, on the 'self paternalism' of the psychiatric will, and on intervention as restoring autonomy. Radden argues that the patient's right to choose is supported by an extension of the concept of competence to include competence to judge an issue. She asserts that neither patients nor physicians have sufficient knowledge of the side effects of psychotropic drugs to make rational decisions. Since neither possesses proper competence, the patient should choose.

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives
  • Decision Making
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Mental Competency*
  • Mentally Ill Persons*
  • Paternalism
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Rights
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Physicians
  • Psychotropic Drugs*
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • Wills


  • Psychotropic Drugs