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UK’s top court: OK for hospital to stop treatment

LONDON — Britain’s highest court has ruled in favor of a hospital that gained court approval to withhold treatment from a terminally ill man despite the family’s opposition.

In a unanimous judgment handed down on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeal was correct in allowing Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool to withhold treatment from David James, 68, who suffered from colon cancer, organ failure, and a stroke, among other problems.

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James’s doctors estimated he had a 1 percent chance of survival and applied to the Court of Protection for a legal declaration allowing it to discontinue some types of treatment, like restarting his heart if it stopped and a kidney replacement therapy. The court rejected the application on Dec. 6, but 15 days later the Court of Appeal reversed the decision. By that time, James’s condition had worsened, and he died on Dec. 31.

Until his death, James had been dependent on a breathing machine and had a tube to provide him with basic nutrition and hydration. His doctors said ‘‘daily care tasks’’ caused him pain and suffering.

James’s family argued that his care should have continued.

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