Son in dispute with hospital over his father's treatment

The treatment offered to elderly patients sometimes leads to conflict between their relatives and medical staff.

If no agreement can be reached, the Court of Protection can be called on to resolve disputes, as in a recent case involving an elderly man with end stage dementia.

The man was 77 years old and had been living with his son. In September 2017, he needed treatment in hospital including receiving nutrition and hydration through a nasogastric tube.

The man remained in hospital for two months until he was physically fit enough to return home.

However, a dispute arose between the man’s son and the hospital trust as to what level of treatment he should receive at home.

The son wanted his father to go home with the nasogastric tube still in place, with home support from medical professionals. He also wanted details of his father’s case to be published to highlight what he considered the substandard level of treatment.

The trust believed it was in the man’s best interests to go home to his familiar surroundings for end-of -life care, and that he should remain anonymous in any reports that were made available to the public.

Due to the stage of the man’s dementia, he did not have the capacity to make the decision for himself.

The Court of Protection judge, having heard evidence from all parties, decided that it was in the man's best interests to have the tube removed and return home for palliative care only.

The son appealed against the decision, but the Court of Appeal said there were no arguable grounds for interfering with the judge’s decision. It had been open to her to conclude that the plan for the man to return home with the tube in place was untried and untested and many things could go wrong.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating to the Court of Protection.

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