Queen's University

Supreme Court to hear end-of-life medical case: Queen's University expert

2012-05-23

Queen’s University law professor Hilary Young is available to talk about today's Supreme Court of Canada ruling that it will hear a case later this year that will clarify who has the final say on withholding a patient’s life-sustaining treatment – doctors or families.

The case involves Hassan Rasouili, who was diagnosed to be a persistent vegetative state. Doctors say there is no chance he will regain consciousness and they want to withdraw his life support but the family refused. Professor Young researches end-of-life law and feels the Supreme Court needs to clarify the laws on this issue.

“The Supreme Court needs to decide if patients or their substitute decision-maker can unilaterally demand life-sustaining treatment no matter how futile or expensive. May doctors unilaterally refuse to provide life-sustaining treatment based on medical factors alone, no matter how much the patient or their families may want treatment to continue? My view is that neither of these extreme positions should be the law. Rather, the law should balance competing considerations, such as the patient’s wishes and values, what is medically indicated, and considerations of resource allocation,” says Professor Young.

Please note Professor Young will have limited availability between noon at 3:30 pm on Thursday May 17.

To arrange an interview, please contact communication officers Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 ormichael.onesi@queensu.ca or Anne Craig at 613-533-2877 or Anne.Craig@queensu.ca at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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