Patients do have a right to treatment.
Though doctors often have to address the very thorny issue of when to withdraw life support, a new aspect of the debate has surfaced in Britain. Medical guidelines in that country currently permit doctors to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration hydration /hy·dra·tion/ (hi-dra´shun) the absorption of or combination with water.
1. The addition of water to a chemical molecule without hydrolysis.
2. from terminally ill Terminally Ill
When a person is not expected to live more than 12 months.
Any gifts given out by the afflicted person at this time may be considered as a dispersion of the estate rather than a gift. patients. However, the British High Court ruled on July 31, 2004, that Leslie Burke, 44, who suffers from cerebellar ataxia cerebellar ataxia Neurology A condition characterized by a usually abrupt onset of unsteady gait, nystagmus, and dysarthria, which in children may persist in the form of residual movement or behavioral disorders. See Ataxia. should win his case to not have food and hydration withdrawn, even when his body becomes incapable.
The judge said current guidelines wrongly look only at a patient's right to refuse treatment, not at a patient's right to get treatment. Lawyers for Mr. Burke claim that the judgment is ground-breaking because it looks at the patient's best interests--their client said he would suffer mental distress Mental distress is a term used, both by some mental health practitioners and users of mental health services, to describe a range of symptoms and experiences of a person's internal life that are commonly held to be troubling, confusing or out of the ordinary. and would be aware of the pain of such a death if food were removed (Anchor & Sails, August 13, 2004).