In re Edna MF: Case law confusion in surrogate decision making

I review the recent case of Edna Folz, a 73 year-old woman who was suffering through the end stages of very advanced Alzheimer's dementia when her case was adjudicated by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I consider this case as an example of how courts are increasingly misinterpreting the ethical and legal decision-making standards known as substituted judgment and best interests and thereby threatening individuals' treatment decision-making rights as developed by other courts over the past two decades and creating serious roadblocks to health-care providers' ability to render appropriate patient care. The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that Edna's legal guardian could not authorize withdrawal of Edna's treatment, ruling that as a matter of law, if an incompetent person is not in a persistent vegetative state, it is not in his or her best interests for life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn unless (s)he has executed an advance directive or other statement clearly indicating his or her desires.
Keywords Surrogate decision making  end-of-life decision making  substituted judgment  best interest standard  Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009975924123
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