Tag Archives: Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

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…

Funding for physician discussion of end-of life decisions Clinical Bioethics

Each patient deserves more than a brief discussion about end of life decision-making. In  “A Piece of My Mind” section of this month’s JAMA (volume 303, No.13, April 7, 2010) Paul Kettl M.D. argues for monetary compensation to be provided to physicians for end of life discussion and planning. He fails to make clear, however, that the decision rests with the patient, not what is best for the family. Physicians must be careful not to wear too many hats and should turn to skilled clinical bioethicists and if necessary the Hospital Ethics Committee for review and recommendations. This will protect…

New York will pass the Family Health Care Decisions Act Withdrawal/Withholding of Care

 It has been 17 years since this bill was first introduced.   The New York State Senate will pass the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA), setting forth clear guidelines for family members and others close to the patient to make medical decisions for incapacitated patients. It will also provide physicians with uniform protocols to follow. In many instances there will continue to be confusion and concern for the rights of the patient. Diligent and thoughtful efforts will be needed to apply these guidelines properly. The following are some of the important points for clinicians:   If there is disagreement about…

Parental Liability for Failure to Seek Care for their Child Clinical Bioethics

A verdict was rendered yesterday (Feb. 2, 2010) in Oregon City Oregon finding Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, Oregon City’s Followers of Christ Church, guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, Neil. Their son died in June 2008 due to a chronic undiagnosed urinary blockage. Neil became significantly ill about one week before his death due to renal failure. He became weak, could not get out of his bed, and had pain in his abdomen and restricted breathing. Jeffrey and Marci Beagley’s Christian faith called for them to seek healing from the Lord and thus as Neil…

Same Sex Domestic Partners and Medical Decision Makers Autonomy

The Senate Judiciary and Public Affairs committee in New Mexico passed (5 to 4) the Domestic Partnership Bill – 800 pages long that gives unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples the legal protections and benefits of married couples on issues including medical decision-making. It is anticipated that republicans will oppose.   It must be made clear that patients are not restricted in nomination who ever they want to act as their surrogate decision makers. It is the person who best knows the patients wishes and values that should act as the surrogate decision maker in all instances.   Some states provide…

Death Panels and Advanced Care Planning Autonomy

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, discusses the need for effective public health announcements to encourage people to explain their end of life wishes and their values, goals and preferences. It has been well established that physicians are reluctant to discuss end of life choices with their patients and the norm has been to put it off until the patient is in advanced terminal disease when it is, indeed, more difficult to discuss. Studies have also shown that the majority of patients said they would choose to forego futile care but few are presented…

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…