Should a hospital ethics committee be empowered to decide in secret to withdraw wanted life-sustaining treatment? This is the heart of what I call Futile Care Theory, a.k.a, medical futility, which is being quietly pushed into official policy throughout the country by the mainstream bioethics movement.
Texas has been ground zero for the futile care movement. In the late 90s, a group of Houston hospitals agreed to implement futile care theory and honor each other’s futile care determinations. Under the protocols that were established, once a patient was voted by an ethics committee to no longer qualify to have their life maintained, the patient/family only had 3 days to find a new hospital to provide the care.
An attempt was made in the Texas Legislature to prevent this imposition of duty-to-die values. All that could be obtained was an extension from the 3 day limit to 10 days. Then Governor George W. Bush foolishly signed the bill, which he should have vetoed so that Futile Care Theory could be attacked in the courts.
Be that as it may, Texas hospitals are now seeking to move the agenda forward by actually depriving people of wanted care. The Andrea Clarke case was reported about extensively here at Secondhand Smoke. Now, there is a new case out of the Children’s Hospital of Austin, in which an ethics committee is striving to remove “Little Emilio” from treatment. Little Emilio has been diagnosed, according to Ward, with Leigh’s disease, which requires breathing and vitamin therapy. People with Leigh’s disease have a limited life expectancy, generally 6 or 7 years, but can live longer. Little Emilio is 16 months old.
Attorneys Jerri Ward (who frequents SHS) and Joshua Carden have filed a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the removal of life sustaining treatment. I will look further into this and report more when I know more.