“There is no duty to maintain the life of a patient at all costs. There is no duty needlessly to prolong dying.”

Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v James & Ors [2013] EWCA Civ 65 (01 March 2013) provides a rare appellate consideration of futile treatment issues.

Details of the patient’s severe illness appear in the judgment, Contrary to the view of the judge at first instance, the appellate court held that it was in the best interests of DJ and lawful to withhold treatment.

A useful statement of principle appears in the judgment.

If the court has any doubt as to an individual’s wishes or as to whether treatment should be given, it should proceed on the basis that the individual would act as a reasonable individual would act.

The patient DJ had died before the reasons for judgment were published.

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