Balancing Best Interests in Health Care, Ethics and Law (BABEL)


  • Dr Richard Huxtable

    University of Bristol

  • Dr Jonathan Ives

    University of Bristol

  • Dr Giles Birchley

    University of Bristol

  • Dr Judy Laing

    University of Bristol

Project summary

BABEL is a project in medical ethics and law, which explores healthcare decisions that are made in the best interests of patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves because they lack what the law calls mental capacity or competence. BABEL asks how the best interests of such patients should be understood – which factors and values should be considered, who should be involved, and whether ‘best interests’ is even the best approach.

We will examine various complex and difficult decisions, such as the treatment of critically ill infants and older adults with dementia. We will look at previous evidence and meet with and interview a range of interested people, including healthcare and legal professionals, patients, their families, carers and advocates.

BABEL ultimately aims to help everyone to make ‘best interests’ decisions in the future – whether they are professionals, patients or carers.