Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Greater Question...

is not whether Kerrie Wooltorton possessed sufficient mental capacity to be able to make a 'living will' petulantly demanding that she not be resuscitated, but why, having drunk poison nine times in the 12 months before her death, she was out in the community at all. We used to have places for people who exhibited such behaviours. They were called asylums.
The document that she handed to the paramedics and physicians who attended with her on the day she got what she wanted, which when all is said and done was to curl up into a ball and die, was not a 'living will' but a suicide note. If the Mental Capacity Act 2005 does not give physicians the latitude to over-ride the petulance of hysterics with a long history of botched 'suicide' attempts who thrust scraps of paper in their faces just as they're about to try to pump their stomachs, then it is just another botched progressive law; another entry in the United Kingdom's own long series of suicide notes, botched, botched, botched from start to finish.
It's difficult not to have some sympathy for the doctors in such cases. The increasing legalification of all walks of British life means that doctors, like teachers and every other class of responsible professionals, must now make every decision with one eye on how it might look in a court case six years down the line. If the risk to themselves by doing something to help a hysteric is greater than the risk the hysteric runs, then while one might not approve of their consequent inaction, one can certainly understand it. The only solution one can suggest to the bereaved in such situations is they they write to their MP; not to ask them to change the law, but to suggest that they get themselves some first-aid training and start going on 24 hour call. Having enacted such botched laws, they should be the ones on the spot forced to make split-second life or death decisions with the defibrillators in their hands.
Perhaps Wooltorton's mind could have diverted from whatever troubles she believed were ailing her by having been billed for the cost of the treatment she had received as a consequence of her previous attempts on her own life. It would perhaps have given her something to live for other than securing her own death.

2 Comments:

Blogger Paulinus said...

I'm still struggling to understand why she went to hospital. She rang an ambulance, I understand. Was this a grotesque pantomime to exert control over medics? I keep thinking of James Cagney at the of White Heat "Top of the world, Ma!"

Poor, tortured soul.

01 October, 2009 23:03  
Blogger Martin said...

Paulinus,

Your analogy to 'White Heat' is a good one, although I would suggest you've focussed on the wrong bit.

Don't forget that Cody Jarrett started faking the headaches to get Ma's attention, and after a while they became real. My own belief is that might be nearer the mark in this case.

02 October, 2009 05:13  

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