Death and Dying.

Nurses General Nursing


In the UK this week, a paraplegic patient on a ventilator won a court battle for the right to choose to have it turned off. British law requires a patient's consent for any treatment, but the staff resisted her requests to exercise her right to refuse. They did offer to try to "wean" her off the vent, but she declined this as the process would be a further cause of pain and suffering to herself.

I am so glad not to be involved with this, but I think the judgement was right. Any thoughts?


487 Posts


Living here in Canada, I have heard quite a bit about her story. I feel for her, but respect her right to make the choice.

We had a similar story here in Canada a few years ago when a woman won the right to refuse treatment and died shortly afterwards.

I think pts have the right to this choice. Which is a much different debate than assisted suicide.

SICU Queen

1 Article; 543 Posts

Specializes in SICU.

Good for her! It's a shame she had to win a court battle to get the choice, though.


499 Posts

Read the book "The Right To Die." It's appalling how inhumanely we have treated the afflicted when they want to end their suffering. It should be every person's right to make that choice.


298 Posts

Specializes in surgical, neuro, education.

We had a case similar in Rochester NY also. THe patient had been living in the hospital for many years. He was fairly young and had to fight to be taken off ventilator. He did win and died in the manner that he had chosen.

We spend our whole lives learning to be autonomous and then something takes that right away. I can't imagine the feelings of frustration, anger, and hopelessness this causes. I hope this women in England is able to die in peace.


6,011 Posts


Do you remember Karen Ann Quinlan? Her parents petitioned for life support to be removed. She did not pass away immediately.

Even with the "living will" currently prominent in the US there is no guarantee the patient's wishes will be honored.

Specializes in ICU, nutrition.

Speaking of "right to die", right now we have a lady in ICU who is totally vent dependent, can't even wean her slightly without sending her into A-fib. She came in for a CABG, had tons of blood products, went into ARDS and is now literally ROTTING away in her bed. I understand that her impending death was totally unexpected; she was supposed to have a better quality of life after her surgery. She initially did OK and went out to the floor but came back to us in respiratory distress. It's the same old story and it happens too often...she has three kids, two say to take her off the vent and let her die, one can't bear to be making that kind of decision about his mama, it's as bad as if he KILLED her himself. I don't know what this lady's wishes were, but I have a feeling she's not getting what she wanted. I guess it boils down to this: everyone needs to let their family know, in no uncertain terms, what they want to happen or not happen at the end of their life. And sign a health care power of attorney appointing someone who WILL abide by their wishes. It's such a difficult subject to bring up, but we have to be willing to open the lines of communication. I've asked my parents, and I've let my wishes be known to my husband. Have you?


829 Posts

Yes ma'am. Me and my husband have had extensive discussions, and are planning on getting an advanced directive.

It kills me...we're more humane to our pets when it comes to death and dying than we are to eachother.


829 Posts

Just found this link on the Pope discussing medicine intervening improperly with dying pts.:,2933,48642,00.html


411 Posts

They have a wonderful advanced directive called Five Wishes. I highly recommend that you check out this site!

hoolahan, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,721 Posts

Specializes in Home Health.

This reminds me of a conversation I had w a pt the other day. There is a new lab test that is being developed to identify those who will have alzhiemers. I have to ask, why would anyone want to take that test? There is no treatment for alzhiemer's. Sure there are some drugs that have a little success w memory, and there are ways to keep your mind active, but no cure or real treatment. In home health I have seen many an alzhiemer's pt near the end, and it is not pretty. My point is, if I ever had such a lab test, and found out I were positive. I think at some point, I would take my own life before I ended up in a place where I couldn't reason that out any longer.

I think a person's wishes should be respected. I did see one woman who was so opposed to intubation that she refused to be tubed, for an episode of severe CHF, in my mind, it would have been temporary until she were well diuresed. But no one could talk her into it, so we did the best we could and she made it through w/o a tube. The one thing I do not want to be is a burden to my family. I'd rather not get to that point.

micro, RN

1,173 Posts

Originally posted by cargal

They have a wonderful advanced directive called Five Wishes. I highly recommend that you check out this site!

cargal.........great site and thx for posting......

DM.....thanks for posting......this ????? and thought provoking, very.............topic

something I have interest in for a very long time.....growing up a PK besides being around the medical field for whoa too many see and think about a lot...........

know that my s.o. and I have had extensive discussions and know where our hearts are related to this......but do need to get it down on paper also.......I am young.........never happen to me......yeah right.......

remember one case that I was a nurse for(actually many).......but just to is a shame what we see patients being put through when you know what their wishes are and those wishes are not being followed........

talk about walking away at the end of a shift with these thoughts on your nursing mind.............


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