Court-Ordered Treatment, Informed Consent, Decisional Capacity, Judge, Ethics, Health Care Decision-making

Document Type



This narrative article describes a bedside hospital hearing to compel surgery, notes the applicable legal standards, and considers the potential impact of the judge in this type of proceeding. The patient, whose back was badly burned, adamantly and vocally refused skin graft surgery. Her physicians believed she lacked decisional capacity; that belief was borne out during the hearing at which the judge did enter an order for surgery. The judge’s handling of the hearing was central to the patient’s expressed agreement with the decision and subsequent successful treatment.



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