‘Living wills’ need to be completely clear, rules judge
'Living wills' that stipulate exactly how a person wants to die should be drawn up with absolute clarity, a judge has ruled after concluding a 67-year-old man with motor neurone disease had made a "valid decision" to refuse treatment, reports the Telegraph website.
The man, referred to in court only as XB, communicated his desires with relatives and lawyers through eye movements on a number of occasions.
Last November, documentation of the "advance decision", as living wills are now called, was drawn up in front of witnesses, including his wife, a doctor, a social worker and a carer.However, another carer questioned whether XB had actually "communicated his agreement" and thereby given consent, the Court of Protection heard.
Consequently the carer'semployer, an NHS trust, applied to the court to ask for clarification on the matter. It is the first such case to come before the court, part of the High Court.After hearing evidence, Mrs Justice Theis said she was "entirely satisfied" that the man had the capacity to make the decision himself.
She told relatives: "I hope the next stage proceeds as well as can be expected."
But she emphasised that total clarity was needed when advance decision documents were drawn up, and said health authorities should investigate any issues about the validity of advance decisions as a "matter of urgency".
During the two-day hearing, XB's wife said he "wanted to be allowed to peacefully end his life", after suffering from motor neurone disease for a decade.
The condition attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, progressively stripping a person of their physical abilities, leaving them wheelchair-bound and eventually total paralysed.
The man's wife had found a template for an advance decision on the internet.
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