Hundreds more baby deaths revealed in Victorian hospitals

SMH, 28 June 2016
Author: Julia Medew
“Inadequate medical care, hospital delays and poor resuscitation procedures are contributing to hundreds of infant deaths in Victorian hospitals, disturbing new data shows. A state government report that dwarfs the recent baby death scandal at Bacchus Marsh Hospital reveals 281 deaths between 2008 and 2013 involved “contributing factors” including inadequate clinical monitoring, misinterpretation of tests and delayed caesarean procedures.”
Find article here.

Physician-assisted dying will be guided by Court ruling for now

CMAJ, online 13 June 2016
Author: Laura Eggertson
“Canadian doctors are now free of the threat of criminal prosecution if they assist patients in ending their lives, following the federal government’s failure to pass legislation governing assisted dying by a June 6 deadline. The Supreme Court of Canada imposed the deadline after striking down sections of the Criminal Code that pertain to assisted suicide in February 2015. The so-called Carter decision specifies that doctors may assist competent adults who clearly consent to such aid if they have “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions that cause enduring, intolerable suffering. That decision now guides doctors in the absence of a federal law.”
Find article here. See also BMJ article ‘Failure to enact assisted suicide law leaves Canada’s doctors in limbo’ here.

California Enacts Right-to-Die Law

WebMD, 9 June 2016
Author: Dennis Thompson
“California on Thursday becomes the fifth and largest state in the country to allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives. With the state’s right-to-die law in effect, the percentage of terminally ill U.S. adults who can ask for medical aid in dying will leap from 4 percent to 16 percent, according to advocacy group Compassion & Choices. As many as 34,000 terminally ill Californians per year are expected to ask their doctors for information about the law, according to the group.”
Find article here.

Capacity and consent: new tool to support your decision making

GMC, online 6 June 2016
“Does my patient have capacity to make this decision about their care? Is there a valid and applicable advance refusal of treatment? What should I do if my patient lacks capacity to consent to treatment and no one has been appointed to make decisions for them? If you are in doubt about your patient’s capacity to make a decision about their treatment, a new interactive online tool will help you identify the steps you need to take.”
Find information and decision support tool here.

Dementia medical test rules slammed in Germany

DW, 2 June 2016
Source: Deutsche Welle
“Amendments to Germany’s Medicines Act planned by Health Minister would allow clinical testing if prior to the onset of dementia the person had signed a consent form. The draft German law has been slammed by former Health Minister Ulla Schmidt as “highly dangerous.” Clinical testing is a highly sensitive topic in Germany because of murderous experiments conducted during Hitler’s 12-year Nazi regime. The legislative change stems from a modernized EU regulation.”
Find article here.

Canada (Attorney General) v E.F., 2016 ABCA 155

Decision: 17 May 2016
[2] …In Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (CanLII), [2015] 1 SCR 331 (Carter 2015), a unanimous Supreme Court held that, for some people, ss 241(b) and 14 unjustifiably infringe the rights to life, liberty and security of the person guaranteed by s 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Notwithstanding that decision, for the time-being the law remains unchanged. In Carter 2015, the Supreme Court suspended its declaration of invalidity for twelve months to allow Parliament time to craft an appropriate legislative response.
…[11] The appeal raises two legal issues regarding the interpretation of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter 2015: (1) does the constitutional exemption granted in Carter 2016 apply only to applicants whose medical conditions are terminal?; and (2) are those persons suffering psychiatric conditions and who otherwise comply with the criteria in Carter 2015 similarly excluded from the ambit of the constitutional exemption?
[12] The appellants also argue that the evidentiary threshold necessary to grant a judicial authorization was not met in this case. They say the medical evidence presented to the motions judge was insufficient to support the conclusion that E.F. has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes her enduring suffering that is intolerable to her; in particular, British Columbia argues that there was insufficient psychiatric evidence that E.F’s condition is “irremediable”.
[13] Neither appellant takes issue with E.F.’s competency or her ability to consent to the termination of her life.”
Find decision here. Find BMJ article ‘Canada’s courts and government disagree on assisted dying as deadline looms‘.

Mental Illness, Natural Death, and Non-Voluntary Passive Euthanasia

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, June 2016, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 635-648
Author: Jukka Varelius
“When it is considered to be in their best interests, withholding and withdrawing life-supporting treatment from non-competent physically ill or injured patients – non-voluntary passive euthanasia, as it has been called – is generally accepted. A central reason in support of the procedures relates to the perceived manner of death they involve: in non-voluntary passive euthanasia death is seen to come about naturally. When a non-competent psychiatric patient attempts to kill herself, the mental health care providers treating her are obligated to try to stop her. …In this article, I consider whether the suicidal death of a non-competent psychiatric patient would necessarily be less natural than those of physically ill or injured patients who die as a result of non-voluntary passive euthanasia. I argue that it would not.”
Find abstract here.

Buksh by his next friend Buksh v South Western Sydney Local Health Network [2016] NSWSC 649

Decision 20 May 2016
“Catchwords: PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – application for approval of settlement of personal injury proceedings commenced on behalf of person under legal incapacity – whether proposed settlement is in the interests of the plaintiff”
Find decision here.

M v Mental Health Review Tribunal and Others (No 2) [2016] NSWSC 572

Decision 6 May 2016
“Catchwords: MENTAL HEALTH – Legal proceedings by and against mentally ill and other protected persons – Litigant in person – Belated discovery that plaintiff is under subsisting order that his estate be subject to management as a protected person under NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009 NSW – Stay of proceedings”
Find decision here.

Surrogate consent to non-beneficial research: erring on the right side when substituted judgments may be inaccurate

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, April 2016, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 149-160
Authors: Mats Johansson, Linus Broström
“Part of the standard protection of decisionally incapacitated research subjects is a prohibition against enrolling them unless surrogate decision makers authorize it. A common view is that surrogates primarily ought to make their decisions based on what the decisionally incapacitated subject would have wanted regarding research participation. However, empirical studies indicate that surrogate predictions about such preferences are not very accurate. The focus of this article is the significance of surrogate accuracy in the context of research that is not expected to benefit the research subject.”
Find abstract here.