Woman who rejected breast cancer diagnosis may undergo surgery without her consent

BMJ 2017; 359: j5358
Author: Clare Dyer
“A 66 year old woman with paranoid schizophrenia may be put under general anaesthetic and have surgery for breast cancer without her consent, a High Court judge has ruled. Mr Justice Keehan declared that the woman, referred to as JT, who denied that she had cancer, lacked the capacity to decide for herself whether to have the treatment.”
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Pere v Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service [2017] QCA 225

Decision date: 6 October 2017
“PROFESSIONS AND TRADES – HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS – MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS – LIABILITY IN TORT – GENERAL PRINCIPLES – where the applicant was employed by the respondent – where the applicant was acting unusually while at work – where a co-worker escorted the applicant to the Emergency Department – where medical staff believed the applicant to be either under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, or suffering from a medical condition that would require urgent attention – where a doctor discussed the taking of blood and urine samples with the applicant – where the hospital staff reported the applicant was calm and co-operative and that consent was obtained prior to the taking of the samples – where the applicant claims no consent was given…’.
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Family in dispute over care of woman with brain damage

The Guardian, 17 October 2017
Author: Josh Halliday
“A family is in dispute over the ongoing care of a woman with brain damage who had suggested she would want to die in such circumstances, a court has heard. The woman, identified as Mrs P, is said to be in a “minimally conscious state” on an acute hospital ward following a fall last year. A Court of Protection judge is being asked to consider whether she should continue to receive clinically assisted nutrition and hydration.”
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Why I needed to let my little brother die

The Guardian, 26 September 2017
Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink
“Everyone involved was compassionate, and I have always felt grateful that they tried not to make it horrible for us. But it was horrible. That’s why I welcomed last week’s ruling by Mr Justice Peter Jackson that in future, where doctors and families are in agreement they should not have to go to court to seek permission for treatment to be withdrawn from patients in a persistent vegetative or minimally conscious state.”
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Dorris Maharaj v Northern Health [2017] FWC 2997

Decision date: 20 June 2017
“Application for relief from unfair dismissal – dismissal harsh, unjust or unreasonable – applicant unfairly dismissed – remedy – reinstatement sought – satisfied could return to position occupied prior to dismissal – no conditions placed on reinstatement – ancillary matters considered – reinstatement ordered.”
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NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The Guardian, 24 May 2017
Author: Sarah Boseley
“The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025. Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population.
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Euthanasia debate: is there such a thing as “good” suicide?

MJA, 24 April 2017
Author: Nicole Mackee
“Continuing debate about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in Australia and around the world needs to take heed of the evidence around the use of these interventions, and the role that psychological distress plays in patients looking to these options, a leading US bioethicist says. For example, in the Netherlands, where euthanasia and PAS have been permitted and not prosecuted since the 1980s, and legal since 2002, dying patients only requested euthanasia in about 6.7% of all deaths. Only 45% of those requests were granted.”
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Right-to-die case: Shrewsbury’s Noel Conway loses court bid

BBC, 30 March 2017
Source: BBC News
“A man with terminal motor neurone disease has lost a High Court bid to challenge the law on assisted dying. Mr Conway was seeking a declaration that the Suicide Act 1961 is incompatible with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which relates to respect for private and family life, and Article 14, which enables protection from discrimination. He had hoped to bring a judicial review that could result in terminally ill adults who meet strict criteria, making their own decisions about ending their lives.”
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South African scandal after nearly 100 mental health patients die

The Guardian, 2 February 2017
Source: Agence France-Presse
“At least 94 patients with mental health issues died after South African authorities moved them from hospitals to unlicensed health facilities. Many of the deaths were due to pneumonia, dehydration and diarrhoea. The centres also failed to provide seriously ill patients with enough food and water, leaving them severely malnourished, underweight and in some cases dying from dehydration.”
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Legal opinion throws status of living wills of patients in vegetative state into doubt

BMJ 2016; 355: i5875
Author: Clare Dyer
“A legal provision that obliges doctors to honour a patient’s “living will” refusing artificial nutrition and hydration seems to conflict with a Court of Protection practice direction stating that all cases concerning the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment from patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state should go to court, a senior judge has pointed out.”
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