Guidance issued on DoLS and intensive care after landmark ruling

The judgment held that “in general” there could be no deprivation of liberty under human rights law when a person is receiving lifesaving treatment

Photo: EPSTOCK/fotolia
Photo: EPSTOCK/fotolia

Guidance on applying the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in intensive care settings has been issued in response to a landmark court ruling.

The Intensive Care Society and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine issued the advice to practitioners on the implications of last month’s Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Ferreira,R v Coroner of Inner South London. The case was likely to go to the Supreme Court later this year but was “the leading case in the meantime”, the organisations said.

The judgement, published last month, held that “in general” there could be no deprivation of liberty under human rights law where a person is receiving lifesaving treatment.

The case involved a woman with Down’s syndrome and learning disabilities, Maria Ferreira, who died in intensive care at Kings College Hospital in 2013. It was heard in the Court of Appeal after the High Court rejected a judicial review challenge by Maria’s sister in 2015.

The summary guidance on the ruling includes advice on assessing capacity and making best interests decisions when working with people who require medical treatment in intensive care. On issuing the guidance, the FICM said that the judgement was “a positive development for the management of DoLS within the critical care environment”.

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