Human Exceptionalism

Hospital Files Guardianship Petition for David Dunn

A futile care dispute in Texas involving David Christopher Dunn, which Houston Methodist Hospital is seeking to refuse wanted life support, is beginning to garner national attention.

First, as I noted over at The Corner, a constitutional challenge to the Texas law has been filed as violating due process, among other claims. Notably, the Texas Attorney General is not intervening to defend the law.

But now, a hospital social worker has filed a petition to have a guardianship established for Dunn. The idea may have been to moot the constitutional question, since that claim was brought in Dunn’s own name.

It is also worth noting that the petition, not sealed, carried a copy of “Physician’s Certificate of Medical Examination” with details of Dunn’s condition.

That would seem to violate HIPAA confidentiality requirements as it lists his diagnosis, prognosis, and purported list of “deficits.” Roh, oh. 

Time will tell how all of this will play out. But this much is clear: Methodist Hospital is playing very hard ball against continuing to extend the life of a patient–who wants to fight to stay alive (see the news report embedded above) and against the wishes of his family–all based on the findings of a bioethics committee made up of strangers.

Realize, the hospital wants to stop the treatment because it is working, not because it is failing.  Maintaining life–when that is wanted–is the quintessential purpose of medicine.

In essence, this is to declare David Dunn futile.

I have written against futile care law generally, and the Texas laws specifically, many times. See here, as one example.

More as developments develop.


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