Matter of Edna M.F
North Western Reporter, 2d Series 1997; 563: 485-501
Court Decision: 563 Northwestern Reporter, 2d Series 485; 1997 June 12 (date of decision). The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that, in the absence of an advance directive, the guardian of an incompetent person can direct the withholding of medical treatment, including nutrition and hydration, only if the incompetent person is in "a persistent vegetative state." In this case, the doctors determined that a 71-year-old Alzheimer's patient was not in a persistent vegetative state. Accordingly, the patient would feel discomfort if nutrition was withheld. Moreover, the patient had not executed an advance directive during the time she was competent to do so. A statement the patient made thirty years previously could not be construed as clear expression of her intent with respect to her present situation. The court concluded, as a matter of law, that if a "person is not in a persistent vegetative state, ... it is not in the best interests of the ward to withdraw life-sustaining treatment."
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