Doctors in France have unexpectedly decided to keep a paralysed patient on life support while his case is referred to the public prosecutor.
Vincent Lambert, 39, has been in a vegetative state since a motorcycle accident seven years ago.
His family has been split over whether he should be kept alive.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in June that his treatment should stop, and doctors were expected to decide on when that should happen.
But the team in charge of his care, at the university hospital in Rheims, told Mr Lambert’s parents that the case should be handed to the authorities and the patient placed under legal protection.
His nephew Francois Lambert told French media that his uncle needed “overall protection” and someone to “represent him legally”.
Euthanasia is illegal in France, but doctors can withdraw care under a 2005 passive euthanasia law.
Mr Lambert’s case was taken to the ECHR last year after France’s highest court ruled in favour of ending his life support.