Medical ethics conference hears about professional responsibility, patient autonomy, and corporate power

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 24 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1398
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

Should a woman in a minimally conscious state have artificial nutrition and hydration withdrawn and be allowed to die? That was the stark question facing delegates at the BMA’s “Morals and Medicine” conference on 22 February.

Tom was convinced that his wife Sarah, injured in an accident and left in a near vegetative state, would not have wanted to be kept alive. Her family agreed. After her uncle had a stroke Sarah had said that she would not want to be absolutely dependent on others. Watching a television programme about Tony Bland, the Hillsborough football ground disaster survivor who was in a permanent vegetative state, she had remarked that it was “cruel to keep him alive like that.”

Sarah’s doctor pointed out that she seemed to relax when massaged and to enjoy the sun on her face and seeing the ducks in the park. Tom and her family were looking at her from …

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