Hospital keeps alive patient against her will

12th December 2017

In a recent ruling, the family of an 81-year-old woman has received a £45,000 pay-out after she was kept alive against her will.

In brief the facts of this case are that Brenda Grant had suffered a catastrophic stroke that left her unable to walk, talk or swallow.  Prior to the stroke, she had signed an Advanced Medical Directive (sometimes referred to as a living will) which provided doctors guidelines on how she should be medically treated if she was to lose her mental capacity or suffer a serious illness.  She had feared being kept alive and going into a care home therefore made an Advanced Medical Directive to ensure she is not given medical treatment to prolong her life.  However, when it came to treating Mrs Grant after the stroke, it was apparent that the hospital had misplaced the document and as a result she was artificially fed and kept alive for 22 months.

An Advanced Medical Directive, if drafted correctly, is legally binding and must be followed by the doctors treating the patient.  It covers various illnesses which may debilitate an individual and what should happen if the patient is no longer of sound mind.

One of the differences between an Advanced Medical Directive and a Lasting Power of Attorney is that the Advanced Medical Directive is when you specifically state refusal of medical treatment, it is in your own words.  With a Lasting Power of Attorney, you leave these decisions to your Attorney to make on your behalf only when you have lost mental capacity.

The George Eliot Hospital Trust admitted liability and in an out-of-court settlement agreed to pay £45,000 to the family.

If you wish to discuss Advanced Medical Directives or Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact Colman Coyle Solicitors on +44(0)20 7354 3000.