End-of-life decisions for patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness in England and Wales: time for neuroscience-informed improvements

Catley, Paul; Pywell, Stephanie and Tanner, Adam (2021). End-of-life decisions for patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness in England and Wales: time for neuroscience-informed improvements. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 30(1) pp. 73–89.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963180120000584

Abstract

This article explores how the law of England and Wales1 has responded thus far to medical and clinical advances that have enabled patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness to survive. The authors argue that, although the courts have taken account of much of the science, they are now lagging behind, with the result that some patients are being denied their legal rights under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The article further argues that English law does not comply with the United Kingdom’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Stressing the need for the law to keep in step with advances in science, the article concludes with robust recommendations for improvements, based on the latest research in neuroscience, to the way in which life-sustaining treatment decisions are made. This would mean that the wishes of patients, including those with covert awareness, can be better reflected in best interests assessments.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 75673
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • Keywords
  • Best interests; covert awareness; CRPD; English law; life-sustaining treatment; Mental Capacity Act; PDOC (prolonged disorders of consciousness)
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Law
    Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2020 Paul Catley, © 2020 Stephanie Pywell, © 2020 Adam Tanner
  • Depositing User
  • Stephanie Pywell

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