Court of Protection rules that life support machine of severely injured man should be switched off

[Photo: Pixabay / CC0]

A judge in the Court of Protection has ruled that doctors should stop providing life support treatment to a former police officer and British army veteran who was left in a minimally conscious state after a road accident, according to an article in The Guardian.

The wife of Paul Briggs had asked the court to allow her husband to die, saying he would have seen living in his current condition as torture and hell. Mr Briggs has been in a minimally conscious state since a motorcycle crash while serving with Merseyside police in July last year.

Mr Justice Charles announced his decision on Tuesday after analysing evidence presented at a hearing in Manchester last month in the Court of Protection, where judges consider issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to take decisions.

The judge agreed that it was not in Mr Briggs’s best interests for treatment to continue, and that it was lawful to withdraw treatment.

Lawyers acting for Mr Briggs through the government-appointed official solicitor’s office have asked for permission to appeal against the decision, so his treatment is likely to continue until the new year, when a decision will be made on whether the appeal can go ahead.

Doctors had told the judge there was potential for Mr Briggs to emerge from his minimally conscious state, but that the life expectancy of people in his condition was estimated to be nine to 10 years. Medical experts told the court that even in a best-case scenario, Mr Briggs would remain severely physically disabled.

Normally, patients at the centre of Court of Protection litigation are not identified because judges aim to protect their privacy. But Mr Briggs’s accident was widely reported and no one involved in the litigation had asked for him to remain anonymous so the judge allowed him to be named.

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