“Best interests” and withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from an adult who lacks capacity in the parens patriae jurisdiction

Willmott, Lindy, White, Benjamin P., & Smith, Malcolm K. (2014) “Best interests” and withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from an adult who lacks capacity in the parens patriae jurisdiction. Journal of Law and Medicine, 21(4), pp. 920-941.

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Abstract

Disputes about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are increasingly coming before Australian Supreme Courts. Such cases are generally heard in the parens patriae jurisdiction where the test applied is what is in the patient’s “best interests”. However, the application of the “best interests” test, and its meaning, remains unclear in this context. To shed light on this emerging body of jurisprudence, this article analyses the Australian superior court decisions that consider an adult’s best interests in the context of decisions about life-sustaining treatment. We identify a number of themes from the current body of cases and consider how these themes may guide future decision-making. After then considering the law in the United Kingdom, we suggest an approach for assessing best interests that could be adopted by Australian Supreme Courts. We argue that the suggested approach will lead to a more structured and systematic decision-making process that better promotes the best interests of the patient.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 73554
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: End of life decision-making, Best interests, Parens patriae, Withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment, Health law, Medical law
ISSN: 1320-159X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Care for Disabled (111703)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Human Rights Law (180114)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law and Society (180119)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Medical Ethics (220106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 10 Jul 2014 00:47
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2014 04:35

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