Quadriplegic Man Who Won Right to Refuse Food Dies in Australian Nursing Home

A quadriplegic Australian man who won the right to refuse sustenance from his nursing home in order to starve to death, died Monday at the age of 49.

The controversial court case piqued the attention of long-term care providers across the globe. At issue was not euthanasia but rather the legal obligations of the medical facility, wrote the presiding judge in his Aug 14 decision. Lawyers for the facility in Australia had made it known the facility held no particular view concerning the man's desire to end his life. But the provider did not want to violate the law by denying him sustenance in accordance with his wishes. The provider sought clarification from the justice system and the court ruled the facility would not be held criminally responsible for his death.

The man first suffered a debilitation spinal injury in 2004 and became a quadriplegic in 2008 after a fall. He could talk only through a tracheotomy, had limited food movement and could wiggle just one finger when he appealed to be allowed to die. His lawyer said the case set an important precedent for nursing home patients who wish to refuse food and medication as they see fit, according to the Australian Broadcast Corporation. For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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