In the UK Physicians trump Patients: No Artificial Hydration/Nutrition
From today’s BBC News website: Patient loses right-to-food case
The General Medical Council has won its appeal against a ruling which gave a seriously-ill patient the right to stop doctors withdrawing food and drink.
Leslie Burke, 45, who has a degenerative brain condition, fears artificial nutrition could be stopped against his wishes when he cannot talk.
Mr Burke, from Lancaster, had won a landmark ruling, supporting his right to artificial nutrition and hydration.
But the GMC appealed, saying doctors could be put in an impossible position.
On the original May 24, 2005 posting on this blog describing Mr. Burke’s wishes, the previous ruling and the appeal by the General Medical Council, I expressed the following view:
My view is that unless the artificial nutrition and hydration is physiologically futile, which it rarely is, whether this specific treatment is started or removed should be the patient's own decision after comparing the risks vs the quality of life to be gained. I think food and fluid decisions should be that of the patient and in all cases requests should be followed by the healthcare providers. There may be medical resistance to starting other life-supporting treatments if the physician finds the medical benefit to be nil, such as beginning dialysis in a terminal cancer patient. There may be special circumstances, such as temporary prolongation of life, which would make starting them appropriate. All life-supportive treatments should also be stopped at the patient's request. Beyond life-supportive treatments, other treatments requested by the patient should be subject to medical standards of practice. ..Maurice.