Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2002] All ER (D) 362 (Mar)
Neutral Citation: [2002] EWHC 429 (Fam)
Court: Family Division

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P

Representation Philip Havers QC and Jeremy Hyam (instructed by Leigh Day & Co) for the claimant.
  Robert Francis QC and Michael Horne (instructed by Capsticks) for the respondent.
  Peter Jackson for the Official Solicitor.
Judgment Dates: 22 March 2002


Medical treatment - Adult patient - Consent to treatment - Right to refuse treatment - Tetraplegic patient sustained by ventilator - Patient expressing wish to be removed from ventilator - Whether patient competent to refuse treatment - Whether treatment of patient by hospital unlawful.

The Case

It was a well established principle that the right of a competent patient to request the cessation of treatment had to prevail over the natural desire of the medical and nursing profession to try to keep her alive. Unless the gravity of illness had affected a patient's capacity, a seriously disabled patient had the same rights as a fit person to respect for personal autonomy. The question of the best interests of the patient did not arise in such cases. Accordingly, the court held that the claimant, who was a tetraplegic and sustained by a ventilator, was competent to make all the relevant decisions about her medical treatment, including the decision whether to seek to withdraw from artificial ventilation.

Practice Areas

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