October 27, 2013

Barber v. Superior Court - 147 Cal. App. 3d 1006, 195 Cal. Rptr. 484 (1983) - CA District Court of Appeal

Facts: Man had a cardio-respiratory arrest and was left in a comatose state.  He had suffered brain damage which was likely to be permanent.  Physicians informed family which instructed physicians to remove life-support equipment.

Procedural History: Magistrate dismissed.  Superior Court reinstated.

Issue: Did the physicians have a duty to the patient to continue treatment if it has been diagnosed that recovery is highly unlikely?

Holding: No

Rationale: Wife was proper authority to make decision for patient who was unable to act for himself.  Physicians had provided reasonable treatment up to what was possible given the circumstances.

Disposition: Not unlawful failure to perform a legal duty.