Tag Archives: Court Intervention in Bioethics

Exploiting despair – the death of Jahi McMath Brain Death

With the onslaught of media coverage of the Jahi McMath case it is time for a public debate on whether or not the loss of upper and lower brain function should determine death.  Brain death is the cessation of any brain activity in the upper brain as well as the lower brain or brain stem. The McMath case should be distinguished from the Terri Schiavo case where only upper brain function was in question. Ms. Schiavo was not determined to be brain dead, but rather a living person in a persistent vegetative state. Brain death is established by numerous objective…

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – Terminal Extubation: Hassan Rasouli Part II Terminal Extubation

Hassan Rasouli, previously diagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state, has now been diagnosed to be in a minimally conscious state. The reason for the change – his physicians noted that he is able to give a thumbs-up when asked by his wife and able to track with his eyes. His physicians are Drs. Brian Cuthbertson and Gordon Rubenfeld, two critical care specialists at Sunnybrook Health Science Center in Toronto Canada, one of the largest trauma centers in Canada, who have petitioned the Canadian Supreme Court for the authority to withholding life sustaining treatment without the consent or approval…

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – Betancourt v Trinitas – Appellate Court Decision Bioethics Conflicts

The New Jersey Superior Court–Appellate Division dismissed the appeal in Betancourt v Trinitas finding the appeal moot. The court stressed it’s concern over the  “sparse record” presented at the time of  the original hearing in the trial court as well as on appeal and found that the evidence was not “conclusive in several areas necessary to fully adjudicate the substantial issues raised.” This is sometimes referred to as insufficiency of evidence. If the person or entity bringing the case does not provide sufficient evidence the court will dismiss the claim. In this case Tinitas Hospital’s request to withdraw the ventilator….

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – Betancourt v Trinitas – Life, Not Policy Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

Ruben Betancourt, 72 years old, was unconscious following the dislodging of a ventilator breathing tube after surgery at Trinitas Medical Center, which resulted in anoxic encephalopathy. He was readmitted to Trinitas in July 2008 with a diagnosis of renal failure. He received dialysis treatments, remained on a ventilator, and feeding tube. The physicians at Trinitas diagnosed Mr. Betancourt as being in a persistent vegetative state and told the family of their intention to stop dialysis and allow him to die. The Superior Court in New Jersey held a two day hearing and thereafter enjoined the hospital from withdrawing life support without the consent…

The Case of Baby RM – Court Intervention in Bioethics Court Intervention in Bioethics

This is the kind of case that courts dread. Baby RM has congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) and is on a respirator. The physician supports the mother’s request to terminally extubate. The father implores to the contrary. To make a decision the court must hear evidence, the kind of that will provide a clear picture of this child’s diagnosis and most importantly prognosis – short term and long term. Before the court can make a ruling this dilemma is best brought before the hospital ethics committee to review this case in detail, hearing from any physicians who are most familiar with this…

Kidney Transplants and Informed Consent Autonomy

At the 42d meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego this week, entitled “Renal Week,” Elisa J. Gordon, PhD, MPH, of Northwestern University presented a study on informed consent, that found that  “kidney transplant consent forms are written at considerably higher reading levels than they should be.” She is of the view that consent forms should be written at a 5th to 8th grade reading to ensure that transplant candidates are well informed about transplantation processes, understand the material, and can provide informed consent. My concern is that many physicians see forms as a satisfactory replacement for…

Terminal Extubation: Discussion and Protocol By Bernard Freedman, Bioethicist Bioethics Conflicts

Transparency: The salient ethical, moral and principle necessity to terminal extubation is the transparency of the conduct of all physicians and medical staff, and fundamental understanding by the patient family and or friends as to why it is being done and how it is being done. It is therefore the obligation of the primary treating physician (PMD) to assure full communication and full documentation. All must keep in mind that the critical distinguishing factor between terminal extubation and physicians assisted suicide is the patient’s rejection (by the patient of patient’s surrogate) of artificial life sustaining treatment followed by the alleviation…

A Staged Approach to Withdrawing Life Support Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

A South Korean Ethics Committee uses a staged approach to Withdrawing Life Support In follow up to this blog’s April 23, 2009 post: “Letting the Conscious But Incompetent, Non Terminally Ill, Patient Die.” A South Korean hospital used a staged approach to consider the withdrawal of artificial life support based upon the condition of the patient. On June 11, 2009 an Ethics Committee at the Yonsei University Severance Hospital in Seoul Korea decided to remove a 77-year-old woman in a vegetative state from a respirator in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling.  Severance Hospital President Park Chang-il said:     “Though we…

Daniel Hauser – and Medical Confidentiality Dilemmas in Clinical Bioethics

I agree with the court’s rulings in the case of Daniel Hauser, highlighted in the media recently. In this case there is as absolute need to continue chemotherapy. It should however be pointed out that the Court ignored Mrs. Hauser’s demand for confidentiality and contributed to this case becoming a spectacle in the media and making Mrs. Hauser the focus of overwhelming media attention, pitting her beliefs against most of the country’s. This injudicious conduct may have contributed to the panic of the mother to leave the jurisdiction and hide herself and her son. The legal issues in this case…

Life, for some in Texas, is Cheap Abandonment

HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE CHAPTER 166.039. PROCEDURE WHEN PERSON HAS NOT EXECUTED OR ISSUED A DIRECTIVE AND IS INCOMPETENT OR INCAPABLE OF COMMUNICATION For the most vulnerable patients, without friends or family, life for some medical patients in Texas, is cheap.  On vague and specious grounds and without proper oversight or transparency, physicians may withdraw life sustaining treatment from a patient, even if the patient is conscious, talking, and aware of his or her surroundings. This statute allows this to occur if a physician treating the patient concludes that the patient will die within six months and there is no…