Live or Let Die? The Court of Protection's Ground-Breaking Decision in M. v. N. (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and others [2015] EWCOP 76 (Fam.)

Pywell, Stephanie (2016). Live or Let Die? The Court of Protection's Ground-Breaking Decision in M. v. N. (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and others [2015] EWCOP 76 (Fam.). Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, 4(2) pp. 143–152.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7590/221354016X14690151940628

Abstract

This case note examines the first case in which the Court of Protection authorised the withdrawal of life-sustaining nutrition and hydration from a patient in a minimally conscious state. It reflects on the judge’s stated view that the label given to the patient’s condition is not determinative, examines the significance and interpretation of the ‘best interests’ test, compares the court’s decision with that in a 2011 case with similar facts, and questions the law’s differing approaches to patients in the minimally conscious and ‘vegetative’ states. It concludes with a brief explanation of ways in which clinicians might – now and, subject to the robustness of emerging neuroimaging technology, in the future – be able to ascertain the views of people who cannot communicate in conventional ways, and expresses the hope that future judges will give priority to their patients’ wishes, to the extent that these can be ascertained.

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