Medical treatment cannot be provided without consent.

Parents and guardians can give consent for children (under 16 years old).

If you are over 16 years old and can make your own decisions, then you can consent to your own medical treatment.

If you cannot give your own consent a doctor can get consent from someone you have a close relationship with, known as a Person Responsible.

Person Responsible

A Person Responsible could be a guardian, substitute decision-maker, relative, friend, or day-to-day care provider.

It must be someone who knows you well.

They can then make decisions about:

  • health care
  • services
  • procedures and treatments
  • end-of-life treatment.

They can also refuse to give consent for medical treatment.

A Person Responsible should ask for information about the benefits and risks of any treatment, and understand what refusing treatment means.

They must try to make the decision that you would have made for yourself.

A Person Responsible cannot consent to:

  • sterilisation
  • termination of pregnancy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • psychosurgery.

These are called Prescribed Treatments. Consent for these procedures can only be given by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

A Person Responsible cannot insist that a doctor continue treatment where there is no real possibility of recovery.

If there is no Person Responsible

If there is no Person Responsible who can give consent:

  • SACAT can give consent for once-off treatment.
  • SACAT can appoint a guardian to make health decisions.
  • Two doctors can give an opinion together about emergency, life-saving treatment.

See our Applying to SACAT fact sheet (PDF, 887.0 KB)

Quick questions about consent to medical treatments

A Person Responsible can give consent for medical treatment - as long as there is no conflict or opposition from the person.

See our Consent to medical treatment fact sheet (PDF, 522.5 KB).

No. A Person Responsible only gives consent for medical treatment.

If the person is unable to make the decision to enter aged care themselves, an accommodation decision can be made under informal arrangements (PDF, 620.9 KB) or by a substitute decision-maker under an Advance Care Directive.

Yes. A Person Responsible can consent to palliative care or make the decision to withdraw treatment.

In these cases, SACAT may need to make a Guardianship Order.

This order may also need to include Section 32 Special Powers to force the person to undergo treatment.