Judge says man who lacks capacity to make decisions can have dialysis
A man who declined a life-saving procedure has been overruled after a judge ruled that he lacked the capacity to make decisions about his medical care.
The consequences of 'Mr S' failing to undergo dialysis were "potentially extremely serious", said a spokesman for the patient, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The spokesman said that while Mr S did not want to die, he refused to acknowledge the life-threatening nature of his condition. However, doctors have said Mr S will die within weeks if he does not receive the proper treatment.
Managers at the hospital treating Mr S applied to the Court of Protection for permission to use 'proportionate restraint' to allow an operation.
On 25th May, Mrs Justice Parker found that if Mr S persisted in refusing treatment, doctors could restrain the patient during dialysis. However, Mr S has since agreed to physicians' requests and the judge has extended her order indefinitely.
Mrs Justice Parker warned surgeons that they must exercise care if restraint is needed. However, the judge accepted that should Mr S pull away from the dialysis machine during the 3-hour procedure, which could cause a potentially fatal embolism, action would need to be taken.
She also noted that Mr S's family supported the hospital's legal move, since he lacked the capacity to make decisions about his medical condition.
"A balance needs to be struck between saving his life and subjecting him week-in and week-out to invasive treatment that has a capacity to be cruel to him," said Mrs Justice Parker.
"Nobody is suggesting that the gentleman is restrained in a straightjacket or anything like that, it has to be proportionate. Restraint may exacerbate the medical difficulties."
"What is intended is that he should be gently restrained by having a hand held by each nurse so it is possible to put in a catheter."
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