Blood transfusion 'can be refused'

Telegraph, UK/April 24, 2014

Doctors can refuse to administer a blood transfusion to a mentally-ill sex offender - whose care is the responsibility of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust - who has adopted the Jehovah's Witness faith, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Mostyn decided that the man, who is in his 20s and being held in a psychiatric hospital, had the mental capacity to decide to refuse blood products.

And he concluded that a doctor could lawfully decide not to administer a transfusion under the terms of mental health legislation.

The judge made the ruling after a hearing in the Court of Protection in London.

Doctors said the man, who had been convicted of a sex assault and given a jail term, had a long history of ''significant and repeated self-harming behaviour''.

The judge was told that he had been moved to hospital from prison after cutting his arm with a razor blade and opening an artery.

Specialists said he had suffered significant blood loss and his haemoglobin had fallen to ''an extremely life-threatening level''.

They had advised a blood transfusion but the man - who had a ''severe personality disorder'' - refused blood products on the basis of his faith.

Officials at the health authority with responsibility for his care then asked for a ruling from the Court of Protection - which is part of the High Court and handles cases relating to vulnerable and sick people.

Lawyers for the health authority said a specialist treating the man had taken the view that a blood transfusion should not be administered against his wishes.

And Mr Justice Mostyn said that was a legitimate decision.

"The patient has capacity to decide to refuse blood products," said the judge. "The decision made by the responsible clinician under section 63 of the Mental Health Act not to administer a blood transfusion is lawful."

He said he would give detailed reasons for his ruling at a later date.

Health authority lawyers said a court ruling had been sought because the doctor - a representative of the "state" - was making a decision which could lead to the man's death.

And Mr Justice Mostyn said it was right that the issue had been scrutinised in court.

The hearing was held in public.

Mr Justice Mostyn said the health authority involved - the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust - could be named.

But the judge said nothing could be reported which would identify the man or his location.

He told the court: "I think he is entitled to have his personal affairs kept confidential - unless he says he doesn't mind."

Jehovah's Witnesses say they refuse blood on the basis of Biblical teaching. The official website of Jehovah's Witnesses says the Old and New Testaments ''clearly command us to abstain from blood''. The site says they avoid taking blood in obedience to God and ''out of respect for him as the Giver of life''.

The man had watched court proceedings from hospital via a television link.

His father, who is also a Jehovah's Witness, was in court.

The man's father had given evidence at a preliminary hearing earlier this month. He said his son should have the right to refuse a blood transfusion on religious grounds - and said his son's decision should be ''respected''.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos