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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

06 OCT 2011

MEDICAL TREATMENT: W (B) v M (The Official Solicitor) and S and an NHS Primary Care Trust [2011] EWHC 2443 (Fam)

(Court of Protection; Baker J; 28 September 2011)

The patient was diagnosed as being in vegetative state as result of viral encephalitis. Coma had left her with extensive and irreparable brain damage. Her family sought a court order authorising the  withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration but then discovered that she was not in vegetative state, but in ‘minimally conscious state'.  The family nonetheless proceeded with the application, the first such application in respect of a ‘minimally conscious state'. At the 10 day hearing the family relied on the patient's wishes and feelings. However, there was no formal advance decision made by the patient, just informal general statements.

Held that it was not in the patient's best interests for artificial nutrition to be withdrawn. The 52 year old patient had some positive experiences, albeit that she could also experience pain.

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