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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

30 MAY 2012

MEDICAL TREATMENT:W v M [2011] EWHC 2443 (Fam), [2012] COPLR 222

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

The 43-year-old woman suffered from viral encephalitis which had caused irreparable brain damage and left her dependant on others for her care. She had been in a coma and when she emerged she remained in a vegetative state. An application was made to the Court of Protection for declaratory relief to allow doctors to lawfully discontinue and withhold all life sustaining treatment including artificial hydration and nutrition. During further investigations it was discovered that the woman was not in a vegetative state but a minimally conscious state.

Declaring it was not in the woman's best interests to for ANH to be withdrawn. The balance lay in favour of continuing ANH with regard to the decisive factor of the importance of preserving life. The judge laid down a number of guidelines, approved by the President, designed to assist in future applications for withdrawal of ANH.

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