Artificial feeding not in the best interests of dying stroke victim

The Court of Protection in England and Wales has upheld a hospital’s decision to refuse intravenous feeding to a 62-year-old woman with severe progressive vascular dementia caused by a stroke, and to transfer her into a nursing home for palliative care. The woman’s husband had asked the Court of Protection to order the hospital to prolong her life by artificial feeding, but the Court of Protection accepted the Official Solicitor’s view that intravenous nutrition was not in the woman’s best interests. (RAO v ROO, 2018 EWCOP33)

This decision highlights the importance of having a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place to deal with such difficult situations and decisions. If the woman in this case had been well enough to make a health and welfare LPA before her condition deteriorated then Court proceedings may have been avoided because she would have decided in her LPA who she wanted to be able to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment on her behalf – the doctors or her family members.

Lindsey Sharples is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Suffolk.

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