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Applying best interests to persistent vegetative state--a principled distortion?
  1. A J Fenwick
  1. Department of Private Law, University of Edinburgh.


    "Best interests" is widely accepted as the appropriate foundation principle for medico-legal decisions concerning treatment withdrawal from patients in persistent vegetative state (PVS). Its application appears to progress logically from earlier use regarding legally incompetent patients. This author argues, however, that such confidence in the relevance of the principle of best interests to PVS is misplaced, and that current construction in this context is questionable on four specific grounds. Furthermore, it is argued that the resulting legal inconsistency is distorting both the principle itself and, more particularly, individual patient interests.

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