The Federal court of justice (BGH) has ruled in the case of a year-long dispute to a patient, in coma lying woman be the one to die. The judges rejected a complaint of her husband against a decision of the district court of Landshut, in the last instance (Az. XII ZB 604/15). Thus, the son of the woman was: He took the Position that his mother would have wanted an end to the artificial nutrition and hydration.

The case has a fundamental importance: It was in essence about how exactly people for the real case, must hold on, when you continue to want to live and when, so that your wishes are also taken into account. So the Statement in the rule is not enough, for example, “no life-support from to want action”, because it is too General.

Since 2009, citizens can draw up a living will in advance, in writing, whether and how they want to be treated, in certain situations, medical. To facilitate interpretation, can be in the document, including personal information, for example, to the own values or religious issues. The German Foundation patient protection believes that now every third person in Germany has a patient.

“life-prolonging measures are to remain under” is not enough

One of the first Supreme court decision in another case of 2016 had the patient advocates, many of people confused. A woman had decreed that in the case of a permanent damage to the brain “life-prolonging measures should remain under”. After a stroke, the daughters argued about whether the mother wanted to continue to be fed artificially. The Federal court of justice, the formulation as a basis was too thin. They did not contain a sufficiently specific treatment decision, as it was then.

click here to read: What questions should answer your patients.

In the current case, the 1940-born wife, who had suffered more than ten years ago to a stroke, had signed the Supreme court, however, beginning in 2017, doubts as to whether the courts of the patients had not too much to ask.

The patient had expressed in your living will similar to the patient with the judgment of 2016. In addition, she refused life-prolonging measures specifically for the case, “that there is no prospect of regaining consciousness.” Before her stroke, she had witnessed two coma cases in the environment and has several times said relatives and Acquaintances, so she didn’t want to lie, you didn’t want to be fed artificially, they prefer to die. With your patients you’ve taken care of fortunately. Once she could speak after the stroke with your therapist at the time, she said: “I want to die.”

Artificial diet was already

initiated in The district court was of the opinion that the could not clearly see that the woman want to cancel an already initiated artificial feeding. The BGH 2017 countered and made it clear: Even if medical measures are not described in detail, can be a patient’s specific enough, if certain diseases or treatment situations. If there is still a Chance that the woman comes to, let yourself by an expert to clarify.

This has to be rescheduled, the district court, in the meantime, and the document thereupon, however, for a sufficiently determined and effectively explains – according to experts, the functions of the cerebrum, the woman is completely wiped out. With the decision of the Supreme court is now to implement what the woman wished for for this case. Family and Doctors need to keep in mind.

the Foundation’s protection for the patient, the decision once again makes clear: “The more specific a patient is, the better. If there is no interpretation possibilities, the bickering is unnecessary,” explained the Executive Board Eugen Brysch. “Therefore, should be described in the living will always clear which disease what are the medical measures desired or be rejected.”


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.