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Persistent vegetative state: A family's agony

Today Programme Podcast BBC Radio 4 23/09/2016

Jodie Simpson was a woman in a persistent vegetative state who died after a Court of Protection accepted her artificial feeding and hydration could be stopped. Her family and the Court have allowed details of her case to be revealed to enable a discussion about what they feel were unacceptable delays in the process of going to the Court. There was a two-year delay in assessment by a specialist centre and then a further one-year delay in approaching the Court.

This for the family was on top of the necessary 6-month delay to permit a diagnosis of PVS to be safely made after this type of brain injury. (It is 12 months following traumatic injury, 6 months after other causes.) Others, however, argued that such inbuilt delays are an important in enabling even small amounts of recovery, which they argue can take years, and feel that this in effect protects vulnerable patients. It is clear that there is very little publically available information on the extent of this issue in the UK.

Finally, unlike in other countries such as the US, there seems no suggestion in associated media for any role for Clinical Ethics in this most challenging UK healthcare issue.


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