19-07-2017

Vincent Lambert: French Council of State cancels the suspended collegial procedure


On July 19, the Council of State pronounced its ruling regarding the examination procedure for halting Vincent Lambert’s treatment. Two years ago, in July 2015, Dr. Simon first initiated, and then decided to suspend the proceedings. The ruling stated that this decision was illegal, and must therefore be cancelled.

Dr. Sanchez who is currently in charge of Vincent Lambert, must now start afresh and decide whether to request a new collegial procedure with the intention of blocking the patient’s treatment (halting feeding and hydration, which would lead to his demise).

This ruling is consistent with the public rapporteur’s position stated during the audience last July 10th. It also confirms the ruling from the Administrative Appeals Court in Nancy, which was the origin for instigating this appeal with the Council of State.

The following points are outlined in the Council of State’s ruling:

  • The decision for halting treatment issued by Dr. Kariger on January 11, 2014 “is no longer applicable since he is no longer the patient’s attending physician”. On this basis, the complaint filed by the nephew, François Lambert is thereby rebuked, since he claimed that a new collegial procedure was unnecessary and that the hospital only needed to abide by Dr. Kariger’s decision to put a halt to Vincent’s treatment.
  • Simon’s decision in July 2015, to suspend the collegial procedure without giving a specific time limit, was ruled to be illegal since a doctor “cannot decide to suspend the proceedings for the reasons cited”, meaning that at that time, she deemed there was a lack of serenity and safety.

According to case law from the Council of State in June 2014, for the same case, « the attending physician must consider all factors, both medical and non-medical; the respective significance cannot be predetermined. Each case must be evaluated based on the individual circumstances for each patient concerned”.

The claim filed by Vincent Lambert’s parents’ is also rebuked, since it requested that the Administrative Appeals Court ruling be overturned.