Intended for healthcare professionals


Legal opinion throws status of living wills of patients in vegetative state into doubt

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 01 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5875
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A legal provision that obliges doctors to honour a patient’s “living will” refusing artificial nutrition and hydration seems to conflict with a Court of Protection practice direction stating that all cases concerning the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state should go to court, a senior judge has pointed out.1

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides that a valid advance decision to refuse a specified treatment, made when the patient had capacity to make it, should be complied with by doctors …

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