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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71159
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Can life sustaining treatment be withdrawn based upon the 'assumption'

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Can life sustaining treatment be withdrawn based upon the 'assumption' that the person lacks mental capacity (without carrying out a formal assessment of capacity).
On querying this with the staff, the Dr informed us that 'the treatment was no longer working and in the best interest of my mother, the medical team felt that treatment should be stopped. They have confirmed that at that time, my mother did not have capacity to make her own decisions. The following day they said her condition had improved and when the staff met with her on ward my mother expressed her wishes to go home.
The staff made no effort what so ever to discuss with her the decisions made on her behalf.
Should I take this further?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Sorry if I am missing the point but why would a person need capacity in this context?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My mothers wishes were that whilst in hospital she would receive treatment for her condition. Her Dr decided that she lacked mental capacity to make that decision and withdrew all treatments.
Well, whether she had capacity or not is a non issue from the point of view of the withdrawal of treatment.
People have to consent to treatment and then capacity would be a factor.
The withdrawal of treatment is entirely different and ultimately a matter for the decision of the medical professionals within the rules set down by the GMC.
Whether or not there is a GMC issue depends on the nature of the treatment and her condition and their reasons. But not carrying out a formal assessment when withdrawing treatment would not offend per se.
Sorry if that is bad news.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I think my issue is around the staff saying that the following day she had capacity to make a decision to go home. That would have been fine with the family. However they said to us that moving her could result in her dying in the ambulance. Weighing up the risks involved we thought it best to leave her at the hospital rather than take that risk. I asked them (given she now has capacity) whether they had informed her of the risks involved and they said no. I guess we are confused about the section in the MCA that states that the patient should be informed of withdrawal of treatment and involved in that decision prior to putting a syringe driver in and knocked out without fluids.
Unless she was subject to any orders they couldn't prevent her leaving.
It is best practice to inform a patient and include them in any decision. That doesn't mean that failure is unlawful though. Unkindness to a patient could be a ground for complaint to a GMC.
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