The courts are being asked to rule in a dispute over whether it is in “the best interests” of a man in a vegetative state to receive life-saving treatment if his condition deteriorates.
A judge said today that the case of patient “L” from the Greater Manchester area, due to be heard next week, arose out of a disagreement between the severely brain-damaged man’s family and an NHS trust.
Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust believed it would not be in his best interests to offer him ventilation or resuscitation if there was “a life-threatening event”, Mr Justice Ryder said.
“L’s family do not agree with the trust’s position and wish all possible life-saving medical care to be provided,” he said
L is a vulnerable adult who lacks the capacity to make decisions about his medical treatment, the judge said.
His case, which comes before the Court of Protection in London next Monday, raises important issues “of serious medical treatment” and should be heard in public, the judge said.
Court orders prevent the identification of L, his family members, the hospital treating him and the clinicians and carers looking after him.
The case initially came to court today with the trust seeking an interim declaration that it is not in L’s best interests to receive life-saving treatment if it became necessary before next week’s hearing.
But the judge said all sides have now reached agreement that trust clinicians will, pending resolution of the case, attempt to resuscitate L and use ventilation if required.
Debra Powell, appearing for the trust, said nobody at present can be sure of L’s life expectancy and it could be many months, or even longer.