Mental health care advance directives are gaining popularity nationwide. Following a growing trend, the Washington State Legislature has recently passed a law allowing patients to draft mental health care advance directives that could be irrevocable. Patients who sign an irrevocable directive essentially waive their fundamental right to refuse treatment in the future. The United States Supreme Court has held that waivers of fundamental rights must be made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. However, as passed, Washington's new law contains insufficient safeguards to guarantee such a waiver. This Comment proposes that the Washington State Legislature amend this law to require two additional protections: a "rights advocate" to explain the potential waiver of rights, and a written warning in the advance directive form. These safeguards will help ensure that patients make knowing and intelligent waivers of their fundamental right to refuse treatment.
Notes and Comments,
Dr. Jekyll's Waiver of Mr. Hyde's Right to Refuse Medical Treatment: Washington's New Law Authorizing Mental Health Care Advance Directives Needs Additional Protections,
78 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol78/iss3/5