Monday, August 01, 2005

A frightening ruling

I'm not usually one to scream about slippery slopes, but this sure seems like one to me. A British high court have rules that doctors can refuse to provide food and hydration.
THE high court ruled today doctors do have the power to withdraw food and drink from terminally ill patients - even if it is against their wishes.

The General Medical Council (GMC) was appealing against a previous ruling that gave Lesley Burke - who suffers from a degenerative brain condition - the right to insist on nutrition during the final stages of his illness.

Mr Burke, 45, won the original ruling last year and it was hailed as a landmark by groups representing the terminally ill.

But today a panel of three judges headed by Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips set aside the decision.

I have read about this sort of case in the past, esp in regards to NICU babies, but I just assumed that the courts would be reasonable. I have no problem with patients or their families choosing to stop nutrition in terminal patients, but that should be a choice for them to make. To give doctors that decision stinks of paternalism. And it occuring in the UK makes me suspect that there is some regard to the cost involved. One more reason to avoid socialized medicine... when the government pays for all medical care they get to decide what is necessary.


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