Could, and should, greater effort have been expended attempting to ascertain whether Archie Battersbee was alive and conscious, and his wishes and feelings about the proposed ending of his life-support treatment?
Archie Battersbee was in hospital when he died, brain-injured so badly that if he was conscious, he was unable to exhibit consciousness by (say) responding verbally to ordinary enquiries addressed to him, questions such as, “Are you comfortable?”, or by moving fingers or facial muscles to answer such questions. He may even have been brain-stem dead by the time his treatment was withdrawn. I hope he was already brain dead for his sake, given what has been done to him. Perhaps a post-mortem will shed more light on that unknown.
Reportedly, Archie was in a coma, apparently unable to breathe without artificial support. The learned barrister and blogger Matthew Scott has posted today saying that Mr Justice Hayden was right to bring Archie’s futile treatment to an end. On the limited evidence before the public and Hayden J, I am not minded to dispute the rightness of the learned judge’s ruling, or of Matthew’s applauding of it. However, I suspect that, by all accounts, the hospital may have fallen short of the need to make adequate accommodations for a patient who may have suffered from a communication disability rather than a loss of all consciousness, as in the case of the late Scott Routley. Continue reading