Tag Archives: Hospital Ethics Committees

Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment – End of Life Care: the Doctor-Patient Relationship A Refusal to Communicate Clinical Bioethics

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article entitled: “ The Palliative Care Information Act in Real Life,” (NEJM 364;No.20 May 2011), regarding a New York statute that requires a physician to have discussions of end of life treatment options with the patient when the patient is “terminally ill.” Alan Astrow MD and Beth Popp, MD, the authors of the article, are troubled by the phrase terminal illness. They argue that the definition in the statute is vague and an improper interference with the physician-patient relationship. The fact that they find the phrase, “terminal illness” troublesome, is troublesome. The…

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…

Doctor’s Mothers and Autonomous Choices Autonomy

Physicians continue to tell patients what they would do if it were their mother. This is just another form of paternalism and disregard for autonomous decision making. Physicians remain exceedingly reluctant to confront the difficult subject of end of life care. The New York times, on January 11, 2009 published an article, by Denise Grady, – “Facing End-of-Life Talks, Doctors Choose to Wait.” Discussing a survey of 4,074 doctors who took care of cancer patients, who had only four to six months left, but was still feeling well. 65 percent said they would talk about the prognosis, but wait to…

The Near Future – maybe Clinical Bioethics

New Reform Medical Center Serving your Community since 2010   Agreement and Release   As you enter this Hospital you understand, acknowledge and agree that this hospital rations medical care and services. This means that the hospital and physicians can determine that you may not be entitled to certain medical treatment, even if it is of benefit to you. Your physicians and hospital may conclude that medical costs to the community outweigh the benefits of the otherwise beneficial medical treatment for you, if one or more of the following criteria exist: Age, (younger than 5 or older than 68); Mental…

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…

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…

Pay to Play – Cost Containment by Ethics Committees Articles

The Los Angeles Daily News, July 11, 2009, wrote, “One doctor, who chairs the Northridge Hospital Ethics Committee, did raise the important and relevant issue of excessive, costly, end-of-life care that has no potential for significantly extending life. If consumers had to pay a significant copayment, they might not demand unreasonable or unadvisable care." http://www.dailynews.com/editorial/ci_12817975 If this physician actually said this, of which I am doubtful, then it must be pointed out that a decision to terminate life sustaining treatment based on or informed by economic considerations is unethical and of great concern. Discussions of terminating life sustaining treatment must…

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…