In the past month, multiple courts have adjudicated medical futility conflicts between parents and clinicians concerning the appropriateness of life-sustaining treatment for a minor patient. In every single case, the courts ruled for the clinicians, holding that life-sustaining treatment was not in the patient’s best interest.
INES AFIRI: In late January 2018, the European Court of Human Rights rejected the application of parents challenging the decision of the French courts. (Afiri & Biddari v France) The French courts had already agreed with treating clinicians that continued mechanical ventilation for a 14-year-old girl was “unreasonable obstinacy.” As in the Gard case, the ECHR held that domestic law rights and remedies satisfied the Convention.
ISAIAH HAASTRUP: in late January 2018, Family Division of the British High Court agreed with clinicians at King’s College hospital in London that further intensive care for 12-month-old Isaiah Haastrup was not in his best interests. Isaiah sustained “catastrophic” brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen at birth.
ALFIE EVANS: In late February 2018, the Family Division of the British High Court agreed with clinicians at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool continued ventilatory support for 20-month-old Alfie Evans was no longer in his interests and that further treatment would harm his “future dignity.” Alfie remains in a semi-vegetative state from a degenerative neurological condition.