Court rules in favour of man who is refusing amputation of frostbitten legs, fingers
The CHUM hospital in Montreal is seen here.
Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 8:44AM EST
A Quebec court has rejected the request of a Montreal hospital that wanted to amputate the legs and some fingers of a badly injured patient.
The patient identified by his initials, K. D., in court documents, is a 44-year-old homeless man from Togo.
He was admitted to the CHUM hospital on December 11 with severe frostbite, and several medical specialists said that the damage to the man's legs and several fingers is so bad that amputation is necessary.
Faced with the categorical refusal of the patient to agree to the procedure, and because the man has been diagnosed with mental health problems, the CHUM found him unfit to decide for himself and applied for a court order on December 27.
In a judgment rendered on January 3, Justice Gerald Dugré of the Superior Court acknowledged that the patient is incapable of consenting to care.
Dugré, however, agrees with the patient's right to refuse, saying it is in accordance with his "fundamental rights" and the "wishes he has expressed."
According to the judgement, "the CHUM has not demonstrated that amputation (...) is currently necessary."
"These amputations (...) constitute an irreparable violation of the person of the defendant and his right to his physical integrity, even if it is irremediably compromised due to severe frostbite", reads the decision.
He wrote that a patient who is forced by the courts to have his legs amputated while he is convinced that they can be healed "could maintain the unshakeable conviction that such an intervention was not necessary and that his will has not been respected."
Dugré noted that half of all people with such severe symptoms die of sepsis.
The court can be approached again if the health of the patient worsens.
With a file from The Canadian Press