Normally, no one can force an adult patient to accept health care because the right to physical integrity is a fundamental right.
For example, a patient's decision to refuse medical care must be respected even if the refusal could lead to death. Of course, the patient must have full knowledge of all the facts when making a decision.
Exceptions: Patient's Permission Isn't Needed
An adult patient can be forced to receive medical care in these specific cases:
- in an emergency
- for infectious diseases (the government requires diseases that travel easily, such as tuberculosis, to be treated right away)
- the patient is not in a position to make a medical decision
- patients who are a danger to themselves or to society because of their mental states
Dangerous Mental State
There are special rules for people whose mental states make them a danger to themselves or to society: A doctor, or another person with a legitimate interest in the person, can ask for a court order to keep the person in a health care institution without the person's agreement.
The court can order that the person undergo a psychiatric evaluation.In these cases, the person is kept in a health care institution for a short time.
Important! If there's an immediate danger,the person can be kept in a health-care institution without his or her agreement and without a court order. The person must be released after 72 hours, unless the court orders a psychiatric evaluation.
When the court orders a psychiatric evaluation, a doctor meets with the patient to decide whether it's necessary to keep the patient in an institution. These patients can only be kept in certain kinds of institutions, such as hospitals, treatment centres, rehabilitation centres, and residential and long-term care centres. (This last kind of institution is often called a "CHSLD".)
If the first doctor decides the patient has to stay, a second psychiatric evaluation must be done by a different doctor. If both doctors agree that the patient must be kept in a health-care institution, then the patient must stay. If one of the two doctors believes the patient doesn't have to stay, the patient must be released.
Also, even if both doctors agree that the patient should stay in an institution, the court can decide otherwise. Before people can be kept in a health-care institution without their agreement, the court must be sure that there are very good reasons and that there is a real danger. If the court doesn't believe this is the case, then the patient must be released.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.