Judge Says No to Hospital “Pull Plug” Demand

Futile Care Theory (medical futility) permits strangers–doctors, bioethicists, etc.–to overrule a patient’s advance directive or decisions by family to maintain a patient’s life. Boiled down to its essence, it is a sign over the hospital ICU stating, “We reserve the right to refuse service.”

Texas law explicitly permits futile care. But apparently not Florida’s. A judge recently refused a hospital’s demand to kick an elderly woman out of life support, noting that the proper decision-making authority in this regard should be that of the family. From the Fox4 story:

The woman has been in Cape Coral Hospital since November after being admitted for diarrhea. Last week attorneys with Lee Memorial Health Systems filed papers asking a judge to take her off life support, saying she is brain dead and in a vegetative state. The family argued that she is not, showing a video in court saying she can respond to commands.

Today Lee County judge Michael McHugh decided not to pull the plug. “He went to the statue and he said, ‘No. He wasn’t abusing his duties as health care surrogate and lacking a living will we don’t know what Jane Doe would want to do so he did the right thing,” added Endrizal.

Note the misuse of the term, “brain dead,” which is dead. The patient here is alive and profoundly cognitively impaired. But I digress.

Good for the judge. Deciding whether to continue efficacious life-sustaining treatment is not a medical decision. It is a value judgment that properly belongs with patient/family/surrogate.

Allowing doctors/bioethicists to decide that a wanted life is not worth living would turn the fundamental purpose of medicine on its head. It would empower a technocracy to decide who lives and who dies. It would destroy the weakening trust of the American people in the health care system.

HT: Thaddeas Mason Pope.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More