Malette v. Shulman

Dom Law Rep. 1990 Mar 30;67:321-39.


KIE: In June 1979, Georgette Malette, a Jehovah's Witness, was seriously injured in an automobile accident and was rushed to the hospital. Dr. Shulman, the defendant, determined that Malette's profuse bleeding mandated blood transfusions to preserve her life. He administered such treatment despite knowing, from a card she carried, that Malette had expressly requested that no blood transfusions be given her under any circumstances. Malette sued, alleging that the blood transfusions constituted negligence, assault and battery, and religious discrimination. The trial court held that the Jehovah's Witness card validly restricted Shulman's right to treat Malette. The Supreme Court of Ontario affirmed the trial court's judgment, concluding that Malette had informed the physician of her objection to blood transfusions in the only way she could. Absent some rationally founded doubt as to the card's validity, Malette's instructions stood.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives*
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Canada
  • Christianity*
  • Civil Rights*
  • Critical Illness
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Freedom
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Jehovah's Witnesses*
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Ontario
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Rights
  • Persistent Vegetative State
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Physicians*
  • Religion*
  • Treatment Refusal*