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Schizophrenic with Gangrenous Leg Allowed to Refuse Amputation

Even today, two of the best U.S. cases for illustrating the principles of patient decision making capacity are almost 40 years old: Lane v. Candura (Mass. 1978) and DHS v. Northern (Tenn. 1978).  

Both cases concern women with gangrenous feet who refuse life-saving amputation.  The stakes are the same in both cases.  But one only woman really understands her clinical situation.  Her decision was honored.

A recent case from the UK also concerns a woman with gangrenous feet who refused amputation.  The court’s reasoning is a good review and application both of decision making capacity and of the right to refuse treatment.

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