“I recognize the terribly difficult situation in which Mrs. Bentley’s family find themselves and I appreciate the disappointment they must feel in being unable to comply with what they believe to have been her wishes and what they believe still to be her wishes,” writes Newbury.
“It is a grave thing, however, to ask or instruct caregivers to stand by and watch a patient starve to death. It should come as no surprise that a court of law will be assiduous in seeking to ascertain and give effect to the wishes of the patient in the ‘here and now’, even in the face of prior directives, whether clear or not," says the decision.
“The first step is going to be to determine how the ruling in Bentley, which determines that regular feeding and regular hydration represent basic personal support and not health care or medical treatment, is applied across the country,” says Scher.
“We know there are people in nursing homes across the land, including Ontario, where it’s an open question whether doctors are following that protocol. Families may be making requests of doctors to stop these measures of basic food and drink in a way that may be contrary to the law.”