Rasouli Case Summary

A summary of the Rasouli court case in Ontario

In October 2010, Hassan Rasouli was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, and underwent surgery to remove it at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. He subsequently developed bacterial meningitis which caused brain damage.

Within a few days, Mr. Rasouli lost consciousness. He was given a tracheostomy, a ventilator, and a feeding tube.  Mr. Rasouli was deemed to be in a persistent vegetative state in January of 2011. Continued use of the ventilator was deemed futile.

Doctors told Mr. Rasouli’s wife, Parichehr Salasel, that he would be taken off the ventilator unless she obtained a court injunction. By presenting evidence that locked-in syndrome is often misdiagnosed as PVS – a condition from which many recover – Ms. Salasel was able to get the injunction.

The doctors appealed, arguing that Ontario’s Consent and Capacity Board did not have power to rule in the case.  The Appeals Court held that the CCB had authority, and the Charter did not permit a doctor to withdraw care against the patient’s wishes.  The doctors’ appeal was dismissed, so they brought their case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Hassan Rasouli’s condition was upgraded to a “minimally conscious state” (MCS) in January 2012.  The doctors maintained that they should have the right to disconnect the respirator even if Mr. Rasouli was in an MCS, because their patient could not communicate.

Mr. Rasouli’s case was argued before the Supreme Court of Canada in December of 2012.  The Supreme Court ruled that that withdrawal of life support constituted “treatment,” to which Mr. Rasouli’s wife needed to consent.

At the beginning of 2014, Mr. Rasouli was moved to the West Park Healthcare Centre, where he remains today.