Doctors Violated Man's Right For Life, European Court
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 10, 2004
STRASBOURG, FRANCE--The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that doctors violated the rights of an 18-year-old British man and his mother when they overrode her objections and gave him medication to speed up his death.
The court said that doctors at St. Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, did not respect David Glass's right for private life in violation of Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. It then ordered the doctors to pay David and Carol Glass £7,000 ($12,600 US) in damages and £10,500 ($19,000 US) in legal costs.
"The court considered that the decision to impose treatment on David in defiance of his mother's objections gave rise to an interference with his right to respect for his private life, and in particular his right to physical integrity," the seven judges said.
On two separate occasions in 1998, when David was 12, he was hospitalized for respiratory problems. Both times, doctors reported to David's mother that he was dying, and that pain medication should be used to "alleviate his distress". The medication they planned to use would also suppress his breathing.
In both cases, Carol insisted that her son was not dying, and that doctors were to do everything they could to keep him alive if his breathing or heart stopped.
Doctors rejected Carol's position and a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order was put into David's chart against his mother's wishes and without her knowledge.
When Carol suggested taking her son home to die -- if he was, in fact, dying -- doctors called police to tell her that if she were to do so, she would be arrested.
Doctors gave diamorphine to David as his condition continued to deteriorate. When his family demanded that the medication be stopped, one doctor told them it was only possible if they agreed not to resuscitate him.
A scuffle broke out when family members tried to revive David. While the fighting was going on, Carol successfully resuscitated her son.
Several doctors and police officers were injured during the fight. Three family members were later jailed for violent disorder and causing bodily harm.
David's condition did improve and he was later released from the hospital.
His mother took her case to the European court after losing the case in Britain's high court and court of appeal.