Monday, February 18, 2008

Golubchuk Update: Manitoba Life-Support Case to Proceed to Trial

Garry has previously written on the Samuel Golubchuk case, now pending in Manitoba, in which two Orthodox Jewish children have requested that a Winnipeg Court prevent a hospital from removing life support and thus ending their father's life.

After granting a temporary injunction on December 11, 2007, Justice Perry Schulman of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench ruled last week that the hospital treating Mr. Golubchuk must continue to provide him with full medical care until a trial can be conducted in the matter.

The Toronto Star reports:

A Winnipeg judge ruled yesterday that an 84-year-old Orthodox Jew will remain on life support until a dispute over whether a doctor can disconnect him without the family's permission can go to trial.

Samuel Golubchuk's adult children, Percy Golubchuk and Miriam Geller, looked elated after Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Perry Schulman ordered Grace Hospital to "provide full medical care" to their father until the end of a trial.

...In outlining his decision, Schulman pointed to conflicting doctors' opinions provided by lawyers on opposing sides.

Physicians at the hospital said Golubchuk has a complete loss of consciousness.

But Golubchuk's lawyer Neil Kravetsky produced a pair of statements from two American doctors, and one suggested that there is no evidence Golubchuk is brain dead.

One of the hospital's key arguments is that physicians have the sole right to make final decisions about treatment – a policy reinforced two weeks ago by Manitoba's College of Physicians and Surgeons after it concluded a long-awaited study of the issue.

The policy says family members must be consulted if a patient is unable to communicate but doctors can make the final decision so long as a family is given a four-day notice of when treatment will end.

Based on other end-of-life cases, though, Schulman noted that right has not been enshrined by the courts.

"It's not settled in law that doctors have the final say," he said.

"In my view, the resolution of these issues is wide open."
We will continue to follow this case and will keep you updated.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto



Also see Volokh: Samuel Golubchuk euthanasia update


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