Burke vs General Medical Council 2004

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Burke vs General Medical Council 20042016-12-12T00:27:23+00:00

Burke vs General Medical Council 2004 

Burke vs General Medical Council image from New Medical Terms

Burke vs General Medical Council


A case heard in British High Court which established that, where a patient’s wishes are not known, the doctor is responsible for deciding what’s in the patient’s best interests.

The case: Mr. Burke suffered from spinocerebellar ataxia, and was confined to wheelchair. He took proceedings because he does not wish to die of hunger and thirst, and wished to be assured that before his condition reached its final stage, artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) would not be withdrawn. The evidence showed that Mr. Burke would at some point in the future require ANH. It also showed that he would remain able to make rational decisions about himself and his treatment up until a period very shortly before his death.

The Court held that Mr. Burke’s position is protected by the law as it stands, and that the guidance given in the GMC’s document Withholding and Withdrawing Life-prolonging Treatment: Good Practice in Decision Making issued in August 2002 (the Guidance) was lawful.  

The High Court held that it was neither necessary nor appropriate to make declarations relating to the Guidance

Reference www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications_media/media_releases/2005/judgment_summary.htm

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