Deciding about life-support: a perspective on the ethical and legal framework in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Thiagarajan M., Savulescu J., Skene L.
This article is concerned with the legal right of health service providers to decide whether to provide life-prolonging treatment to patients. In particular, an examination of recent decisions by the English Court of Appeal in R (Burke) v General Medical Council (Official Solicitor and Others Intervening)  EWCA Civ 1003 and the European Court of Human Rights in Burke v United Kingdom (unreported, ECHR, No 19807/06, 11 July 2006) is provided. An analysis of Australian case law is undertaken together with a consideration of the limits of a patient's legal right of autonomy in relation to choosing life-prolonging medical treatment; the basis upon which such treatment can be legally withdrawn or withheld from an incompetent patient against the patient's earlier expressed wishes that it should be continued or initiated; the concept in ethics and law of a patient's best interests; and the role of courts in adjudicating disputes about the continuation of treatment in light of the recent decisions.