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Emergency Treatment

What is an emergency? An emergency exists when treatment is needed at once to preserve the patient's health or life. Although this may be self-evident, in some situations an "emergency" can be determined only by a physician.

Is consent needed in an emergency? In an emergency, consent to necessary treatment is implied; it does not need to be given expressly.

What must be done if an adult patient is unconscious but there is no emergency? Unless someone has already been legally authorized to consent for the patient, a guardian must be appointed to give consent to treatment. As indicated before, although doctors and hospitals often furnish treatment to such patients, they should insist upon the appointment of a guardian if a dispute arises as to the proper care.


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