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Health: Hydration

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 3 November (WA 46), how patients can prove that they requested that artificial hydration or nutrition was not withdrawn in the absence of a written record. [HL156]

The recording of discussions between a doctor and patient is a matter of professional practice. Guidance issued by the General Medical Council says:

“You must ensure that decisions are properly documented, including the relevant clinical findings; details of discussions with the patient, health care team, or others involved in decision making; details of treatment given with any agreed review dates; and outcomes of treatment or other significant factors which may affect future care. You should record the decision at the time of, or soon after, the events described. The record should be legible, clear, accurate and unambiguous, for example avoiding abbreviations or other terminology that may cause confusion to those providing care. You must ensure that the records are appropriately accessible to the patient, team members and others involved in providing care to patients”.

Source: Withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging treatments—guidance for doctors (2002), paragraph 63.