Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in a patient's best interests: Australian judicial deliberations.
Willmott L., White B., Smith MK., Wilkinson DJC.
Intractable disputes about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment from adults who lack capacity are rare but challenging. Judicial resolution may be needed in some of these cases. A central concept for judicial (and clinical) decision making in this area is a patient's "best interests". Yet what this term means is contested. There is an emerging Supreme Court jurisprudence that sheds light on when life-sustaining treatment will, or will not, be judged to be in a patient's best interests. Treatment that is either futile or overly burdensome is not in a patient's best interests. Although courts will consider patient and family wishes, they have generally deferred to the views of medical practitioners about treatment decisions.