Wednesday, August 21, 2013
PA Court Refuses to Appoint Guardian to Override Patient Wishes
I have defended (here, here, and here) surrogate selection as a mechanism for resolving medical futility disputes. But there are certainly limits. Two of the most obvious are these. First, a surrogate cannot consent to stopping LSMT when the patient herself specifically requested it. Second, the provider should not even be turning to a surrogate when the patient still has capacity.
Remarkably, St. Luke's Hospital in Allentown, PA seems to have ignored both these limits. It tried to get the local court to appoint a guardian to consent to stopping LSMT contrary to the patient's own directions that LSMT be continued.
Not only did the hospital lose, but the court imposed sanctions for even making such an argument. That order was recently affirmed.
Thaddeus Mason Pope is Director of the Health Law Institute and Professor of Law and at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. <> <> He is also an Adjunct Professor with the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology; Adjunct Associate Professor with the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College; and Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at St. Georges University. <> <> Professor Pope is an internationally recognized expert in bioethics and medical ethics. He has over 120 publications in: leading medical journals, law reviews, bar journals, nursing journals, bioethics journals, and book chapters. He also coauthors the definitive 1500-page treatise The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking.