Sunday, May 22, 2016

British Court of Protection Decides Another Medical Futility Case

Perhaps nowhere in the world other than the UK is there a more developed body of published, reasoned jurisprudence on when clinicians can stop life-sustaining treatment over family objections.




In In re O, the 58-year old patient suffered a severe hypoxic brain injury.  The injury was so extensive that the majority of her brain stem was also involved."  She had "no voluntary movements and no response to pain."  The pupils did not respond to light.  "There was no gag reflex."  The only thing that seems to have prevented a diagnosis of death was "very occasional spontaneous breaths."





The judge involved a lot of external experts even though recognizing that exploring "every avenue available" was at odds with his "obligation to protect their mother."  There was a "compelling consensus of very distinguished medical evidence . . . that there was . . . no sentient life and no prospect of a recovery."  





The court granted the declaratory relief sought by the NHS Trust.  It concluded that "the daughters are simply unable to let their mother go"  Her "independent life f the body and mind has now gone . . . .  Hers has become a life without content."  




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