Schizophrenic with Gangrenous Leg Allowed to Refuse Amputation

Even today, two of the best U.S. cases for illustrating the principles of patient decision making capacity are almost 40 years old: Lane v. Candura (Mass. 1978) and DHS v. Northern (Tenn. 1978).  

Both cases concern women with gangrenous feet who refuse life-saving amputation.  The stakes are the same in both cases.  But one only woman really understands her clinical situation.  Her decision was honored.

A recent case from the UK also concerns a woman with gangrenous feet who refused amputation.  The court’s reasoning is a good review and application both of decision making capacity and of the right to refuse treatment.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.