An update on the right to live

Life support

Life supportI have written before about a case winding its way through the Canadian courts about a patient’s right to live. Hassan Rasouli went into Sunnybrook Hospital for surgery, contracted an infection, and ended up on life support. His wife, who was also his attorney under a Power of Attorney for Personal Care that Rasouli had signed before his illness, insisted that his wishes were to be kept alive by all means necessary. Rasouli’s doctors insisted that he would never recover and should be removed from life support.

The Supreme Court of Canada just released their decision last week, and found that the doctors could not unilaterally decide to stop treatment. It is not a total victory for Rasouli’s family; the doctors could still go to the Consent and Capacity Board and request a hearing to determine whether Rasouli should be kept on life support. However, it is a significant victory because it proves that, ultimately, the patient’s voice, or that of his or her attorney, must be considered before ending life support.

You can read the entire Supreme Court decision here.