Court rules food and hydration are treatmentBMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7401.1233-a (Published 05 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1233
- Christopher Zinn
An elderly woman with severe dementia who has been kept alive for years by tube feeding will be allowed to die through the ending of her treatment in what is being described as a landmark court ruling.
The Victorian Supreme Court found that the food and hydration being given to the 68 year old woman, known only as “BWV,” was a medical procedure rather than palliative care and could therefore be legally refused.
Judge Stuart Morris said that the public advocate Julian Gardner, who was appointed the woman's guardian, would now be able to decide whether it is time for her to “die with dignity.”
“The court had made it clear everyone has a right to refuse medical treatment,” said Mr Gardner. “This case is about someone who, while they were competent, made their views and wishes about medical treatment clearly known.”
The decision—the …
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