Judge declares woman deceased after relatives raise concern about ‘rush to switch everything off’

A judge has ruled that a woman who suffered a brain haemorrhage is dead after doctors and relatives became embroiled in a treatment dispute.

Doctors said the woman, who is in her 40s, died on March 10 and was receiving “futile” life-support treatment.

But a family member said their “rush to switch everything off” was “awful”.

Sir Jonathan Cohen on Wednesday made a declaration that the woman was dead after lawyers representing hospital bosses responsible for her care asked for a ruling.

The judge oversaw a public online hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

He considered evidence from specialists and a member of the woman’s family.

The judge, who is based in London, ruled the woman cannot be identified in media reports of the case.

He heard that she had been in the care of the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which is based in Peterborough and runs a number of hospitals in the area.

Barrister Emma Sutton, who led the trust’s legal team, told how the woman had gone to a hospital emergency department in early March complaining of “severe migraine-type headaches”.

Miss Sutton said a scan revealed an “aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage”.

“It was determined that there were no neurosurgical options available and that clinical treatment was futile,” she said, in a written case outline.

“Brain stem death testing undertaken on 10 March 2022 confirmed cessation of brain stem function.”

She said: “The clinical decision that (she) had died was reached following brain stem death testing at 11.45 on Thursday 10 March.”

Miss Sutton said specialists at other hospitals also concluded that the woman was dead.

She told the judge that the woman was receiving “futile” life-support treatment.

Miss Sutton said the woman’s family had “indicated their disagreement with the cessation of treatment”.

One family member told the judge: “This rush to switch everything off is awful.”

She said she was “not really trusting” what doctors were saying.

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