Hospital breached boy's human rights by treating him against his mother's wishesBMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7441.661 (Published 18 March 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:661
All rapid responses
The contradictory approaches taken by the court in two cases cited in
the news were quite astonishing. In the first case, a successful
prosecution took place against the health authority as mother’s wishes
were not kept. In the second case, mother herself was prosecuted as her
wishes were acted upon. There was something common in both the cases,
namely the time factor. Both required quick decision making.
Perhaps, in stead of using the ‘retrospectoscope’ and putting the
blame on either the clinicians or parents, as is the current practice, the
legal system can offer a customised 24 hour access ‘Accident and
Emergency’ like court service. The latter would help reduce tension and
restore the balance, if there was a conflict between the clinicians and
parents regarding a child’s (born or unborn) care, irrespective of the
time of the day (or night).
If the society wants an effective 24 hour health care, there should
be the provision for an effective 24 hour legal guardianship too. It is
time that the legal profession gets rid of its leisurely image and
modernises itself in pace with the expectation of the society.
1. Dyer C. Hospital breached boy's human rights by treating him against
his mother's wishes. BMJ 2004;328: 661.
2. Marwick C. Mother accused of murder after refusing caesarean section.
BMJ 2004;328: 663.
3. Winton N. Closed shop monopoly. Winton’s Week 10 December 2002
Competing interests: No competing interests