An assessment of the court's role in the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in the permanent vegetative state

Halliday, Simon, Formby, Adam and Cookson, Richard (2015) An assessment of the court's role in the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in the permanent vegetative state. Medical Law Review, 23 (4). pp. 556-587. ISSN 26152652

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/medlaw/fwv026

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An assessment of the court's role in the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in the permanent vegetative state
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Abstract

In this article, we reassess the court's role in the withdrawal of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from patients in the permanent vegetative state (PVS), focussing on cases where health-care teams and families agree that such is in the patient's best interest. As well as including a doctrinal analysis, the reassessment draws on empirical data from the families of patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness, on economic data about the costs of the declaratory relief process to the National Health Service (NHS), and on comparative legal data about the comparable procedural requirements in other jurisdictions. We show that, following the decision in the Bland case, the role of the Court of Protection is now restricted to the direct supervision of the PVS diagnosis as a matter of proof. We argue that this is an inappropriate role for the court, and one that sits in some tension with the best interests of patients. The blanket requirement of declaratory relief for all cases is economically expensive for the NHS and thus deprives other NHS patients from health care. We demonstrate that many of the ancillary benefits currently offered by declaratory relief could be achieved by other means. Ultimately, we suggest that reform to the declaratory relief requirement is called for.

Keywords:Best interests, Court of Protection, Declaratory relief, Disorders of consciousness, Life-sustaining treatment, PVS
Subjects:M Law > M140 Comparative Law
L Social studies > L431 Health Policy
L Social studies > L100 Economics
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:49223
Deposited On:10 May 2022 10:56

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