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Court of Protection due to rule on Re L

A High Court judge is due to give his decision today (8 October 2012) in the case of a severely brain-damaged patient at the centre of a legal battle over his treatment, reports the Lytham and St Anne’s Express.

8 October 2012

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Mr Justice Moylan, sitting at the Court of Protection, has been asked by a hospital trust responsible for the medical care of ‘L’, a devout Muslim, to rule that it can lawfully withhold treatment.

But the family of the 55-year-old patient say their religious faith requires everything to be done to prolong life “until God takes it away”.

Mr L’s wife and two of his adult sons say it would be wrong for clinicians of the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to withhold ventilation or resuscitation treatment in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

Doctors diagnosed Mr L as being in a “persistent vegetative state” (PVS) after he suffered a cardiac arrest in mid-July which resulted in devastating brain damage. They said Mr L would have “minimal prospects of improving neurological function” and no “meaningful quality of life” if life-prolonging treatment were given.

His family insisted they had seen signs that he was not in a vegetative state. In August, video evidence, including film of Mr L closing his eyes and “grimacing” when his eyes were cleaned, led doctors to conclude that he was now “most likely in a minimally conscious state”.

The court case in London was adjourned so that further assessments could be made. But trust lawyers later returned to court when the case resumed saying it would still not be in Mr L’s best interests to receive active resuscitation.

They argued his treatment should be limited to what doctors consider is reasonably required “to maintain his dignity and relieve such pain and discomfort as he may feel”.

Family lawyers disagreed and submitted Mr L’s condition has continued to improve and he is showing increased awareness of his environment and responding to family members when they visit him in hospital.

For the ruling in the case, see http://www.privateclientadviser.co.uk/news/vulnerable-clients/family-lose-right-life-case

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