Death and dying is something we all are going to face one day. Being faced with our own mortality or that of a loved one, is a subject that’s very emotional, and some very difficult decisions will have to be made. But who should be making those decisions? The patient, families, the doctors? Should someone, who just received devastating news and is on an emotional roller coaster, make end of life decisions? How about the family members, who are so grief stricken and praying for a medical miracle, are wanting everything done no matter how bleak the outcome. What about the hospitals and doctors who know the cost associated with end of life care and realize that there is no real impact on ...view middle of the document...
The goals of the law are meant to improve communication between patients and physicians, help end pain and suffering of terminally ill patients, and allow healthcare providers to give appropriate and compassionate treatment to patients without fear of interference from outside interest groups.2 Many people feel the law is a good one. However, controversy centers on section 166.046 which states:
(e) If the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is
requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the
review process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment, the patient shall be given
available life-sustaining treatment, pending transfer to another facility. The patient
is responsible for any cost incurred in transferring the patient to another facility.
The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining
treatment after the 10th day after written decision (that is required) is provided to the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient.3
In the event it is determined the patients conditions is “irreversible” or brain death occurs, the physician has the difficult decision of discussing with the patient or decision maker, discontinuation of life support. This may be discontinuing ones feeding tube or ventilator. By law, the family is given notice, (forty-eight hours) that a review by the Medical Ethics Committee will take place. The committee is composed of a panel of medical professionals, not involved in the patients care. They will review diagnosis and treatments, and determine if life-sustaining treatment is appropriate. The patient or decision maker may attend this meeting. If the patient or decision maker is in disagreement with the committees findings, they have 10 days to transfer the patient to another facility. Most of the time, families are in agreement of discontinuing life-sustaining treatment after the physician or health care personal explains their loved ones medical condition. But there are some cases where families are in total disagreement and seek legal action to keep their loved ones on life-sustaining support.
On December of 2013, the family of Jahi McMath made headline news when the thirteen year-old Jahi suffered cardiac arrest after tonsil surgery. A fierce court battle ensued between Children’s Hospital, who wanted to remove Jahi from life support, and her family, who insisted she was still alive and wanted her to remain on life support. On December 23, 2013, Alameda Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo appointed Dr. Paul Fisher, Chief of Pediatric Neurology at Standford Childrens, to evaluate Jahi. According to Dr. Fisher: Overall, unfortunate circumstances in thirteen year-old Jahi McMath, with known irreversible brain injury and now complete absence of...