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Hospital “undervalued” sick man’s quality of life, says Court of Protection

07th January 2013

The 68-year-old husband and father had been admitted into hospital seven months ago suffering from a stomach problem but subsequently suffered from pneumonia, a stroke, a heart attack and infections which resulted in multiple organ failure.

The hospital trust caring for the man had sought authorisation to withdraw treatment for the patient who had been left unable to breathe unaided and with no ability to communicate verbally.

The family alleged that the hospital’s decision to withhold treatment was based on costs.

During the hearing, the family’s court of protection solicitor argued their insistence that the former guitarist from Liverpool did have a quality of life and that he could read newspapers and smile at family members who were visiting.

However, an expert witness for the hospital trust supported its findings, delivered by the trust’s solicitors, that the patient had little realistic chance of making a recovery and was, in his view, in distress.

Yet, Mr Justice Jackson, presiding, ruled that the hospital had undervalued the patient’s quality of life and that his relationship with his family was still “of the closest and most meaningful kind”.

Speaking about the future for the patient and his family in the event of a medical “crisis”, the judge said, “It may be that this will involve treatment of one kind or another; it may be that the family will agree that [the patient] has had enough.”

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