MCA: Advance decision to refuse treatment

On October 25th 2007 22 year old EG gave birth to twins at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. A few hours later she was dead because she refused to accept a blood transfusion. EG was a devout Jehovah’s witness. She suffered a sudden haemorrhage and bled to death following a natural delivery. EG had already signed a form before the birth refusing blood in such an event.

According to newspaper reports staff at the hospital tried to get EG’s husband and wider family to consent to the blood transfusion on her behalf but they would not.

  • Is this ‘valid and applicable’ as an advance decision to refuse treatment?
  • What about the notion that ‘decision-makers should not be motivated by a desire to bring about the person’s death’?
  • What do you make of the staff asking EG’s family to overrule her decision?
  • If the family had consented would the transfusion have been legal?
  • If not – would the family have been liable or the staff who gave it?
  • Who was the legal decision-maker in this situation?

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