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Court of Appeal: Doctors Cannot Unilaterally End Life Support

Update: July 18, 2011

The Court of Appeal ruling in Rasouli v. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2011 ONCA 482 (CanLII) is now available online.

Originally Posted: June 29, 2011

On June 29, 2011 the Court of Appeal for Ontario issued its decision in the controversial case of Rasouli (Litigation Guardian of) v. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The Court of Appeal held that doctors cannot unilaterally withdraw life support without the consent of a substitute decision maker. According to the Court, if doctors disagree with a substitute decision maker’s decision in respect of discontinuing life support, they must bring the issue before the Consent and Capacity Board. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of Madam Justice Himel of the Superior Court of Justice, agreeing with Justice Himel’s conclusion that the withdrawal of life support measures constitutes “treatment” under the Health Care Consent Act.

Mark Handelman, counsel to Whaley Estate Litigation represented the intervener the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in the appeal.

For more on the background of the case, please see Amy Cull’s June 17 blog: Rasouli (Litigation Guardian of) v. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: A Life or Death Decision

We will post a link to the decision once it becomes available.

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