• How should we understand the “best interests” of an incapacitated child or adult patient?

  • What are the ethical, legal, professional, and personal dimensions of best interests decision-making in healthcare?

  • Which factors should influence best interests decisions in healthcare?

  • Who should inform and make best interests decisions?

What is the conference about?

Many clinical ethics services will be familiar with advising on cases or policies that concern patients who lack the mental capacity or competence to make a decision about medical treatment for themselves. In such circumstances, the decision may be made in the patient’s “best interests”. The best interests test is well-established internationally: it is not only part of UK law, but also features in law and clinical practice in many other countries worldwide.

But what does and should it mean to say that treatment is in a patient’s “best interests”? Which factors should inform these decisions? Who should make these decisions? What are the ethical dimensions of best interests decision-making? And is this even the right test to apply?

This conference, the 21st annual conference of the UK Clinical Ethics Network (UKCEN), will explore these and various related questions, from a range of perspectives.

Who is the conference for?

The conference will be of interest to:

  • Members of clinical ethics services, such as members of Clinical Ethics Committees;
  • Clinicians and other health workers;
  • Lawyers; and
  • Patients and those close to them.

The conference will focus on the UK, but international delegates are very welcome (there is an option to attend online).