First of all, Hospital has the duty to treat patients. However, a hospitalwill still need the consent of the patient before the medical team couldproceed with the treatment.
In the case of Re:C (adult,refusal of treatment)1994 1 WLR 290, Heatherwood Hospital act as the medical team and C is thepatience. C was seen to have severe gangrene in his foot. The consultantvascular surgeon at Heatherwood Hospital had informed C regarding the risk andconsequences of no treatment. The chance of living with only conservativetreatment is only 15%.
However, C stated that he would rather die with two feetthan live with one foot. The rule used to analysis the issue by Heatherwood Hospital is differentfrom how C analyse the situation. Heatherwood Hospital had used Utilitarian orthe outcome base rule to analyse the situation.
Heatherwood Hospital hadapplied the outcome base theory, the hospital had made a decision that promotesmore happiness. By putting both outcome whether to treat by giving more chanceof surviving to C or not to treat, to fulfil C wishes of keeping both his feetbut with a very low chance of survive, as low as 15%. Heatherwood Hospital hadgiven an advice C to go through the amputation, for the best interest of theirpatient. Nonetheless, as the medical personnel, they could only inform thepatient of any risk and consequences of not taking the treatment. Besides, thehospital has to give C ample time to make his decision and be sure that C isgiving consent voluntarily. At the end of the day, the patient will still havethe full right to make a decision and shall be fully respected.
In the other hand, C had applied character base theory to analyse thesituation. Character based ethics often referred as virtue ethics, is thedecision of a personal preference rather than a good action. From the angle ofcharacter base ethical approach, C had strongly insisted to keep both his feetthan to amputate one of it. Even though by amputating the gangrene foot couldgive him a higher chance of living, but he didn’t see the happiness of livingwith only one foot if so, he would rather die with two feet. In addition, C had even applied to the court for an injunction to stopthe hospital to carry out the amputation. C had received the injunction grantedfrom the Family Division of the High Court to stop any amputation byHeatherwood Hospital or any other hospital in future without C’s writtenconsent. With the strong will of C to keep his foot, the hospital has made anadditional step to assess the patient’s condition and capacity to understandthe nature of treatment. The hospital’s consultant forensic psychiatrist feltthat C was not capable of going through all the mental stages of consenting toor refusing the amputation.
By referring to C medical record, as previously hewas diagnosed as a chronic paranoid schizophrenic and yet fully recover tonormal yet. In my point of view, as C is suffering from having hallucinations,particularly of auditory variety, and perceptual disturbance since he wasdiagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenic when he was in prison. These symptoms can have a huge effect on functioning and cannegatively affect the quality of life. In another word, the most importantcondition before a person could sign a medical consent is to be sure that theperson has a free mind of thoughts. But, C could have got some disturbance byhallucination and auditory variety. I personally would prefer to have utilitarian, outcome based approach.
It is beneficial for both parties. Decision-making power should be given to theHospital as they as medical personnel is the medical professional, they musthave known better than anyone of us. Furthermore, C didn’t have a clear mind onthe decision making process. At the end of the day, will C be granted the injunction to stopHeatherwood Hospital or any other hospital to do the amputation is ultimatelyrely on the court. If I were the judge in this case, I wouldn’t have grant theinjunction.
Reason being, C might have taken this opportunity as a nicer way toend his life. From the case report, we understand it is not easy for C to getthrough a seven years sentence.