Two New Medical Futility Cases in Canada

Hassan Rasouli

After the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Rasouli, clinicians across Canada have generally been "chilled" from standing up to surrogates who demanded potentially inappropriate life-sustaining treatment.  But two new cases suggest that some clinicians are still committed to defending what they think right for the patient.

The first case concerns Darlene Crayne who was at Chinook Regional Hospital outside Calgary. Clinicians planned to remove her ventilator. The family obtained a temporary restraining order, but ultimately withdrew their application for a court injunction when they realized they would probably lose.

The second case concerns Johnnie Frank Spence who died at the Manitoba Health Sciences Centre.  His wife is suing (also here) the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, alleging medical staff removed her husband from a ventilator knowing he would die, even though he had regained consciousness and was communicating with family members.

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