Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors can withdraw artificial feeding without court approval in some cases, judge rules

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 21 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4397
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Cases in which doctors and the family of a patient in a permanent vegetative or minimally conscious state agree that artificial feeding should be withdrawn need no longer go to court, a High Court judge has declared in a landmark ruling.1

Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that a decision to withdraw clinically assisted nutrition and hydration in such cases, taken in accordance with professional guidance, will be lawful and that doctors who withdraw the treatment without going to court will be protected under the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act.

The ruling came in the case of a woman with Huntington’s disease, who was dependent on clinically assisted nutrition and hydration since 2003. Neither the …

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