To obtain a durable power of attorney for health care, call the Patients Rights Council (800-958-5678 or 740-282-3810) between 8:30am and 4:30pm (eastern time).
Texas law (Texas Health and Safety Code 166.046) permits health care facilities to unilaterally decide to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment even in situations where the patient or the patient’s decision maker wants such care.
There have been numerous failed attempts to change the law to provide greater patient protection. The last attempt for such bills failed to gain approval in the session ending in June 2011.
An additional attempt (SB 303) to change the law failed in May 2013. Many commentators believed that SB 303 would lessen, not increase, patient protection.
“Wrongful Death & Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Filed In Michael Hickson Case”
(Not Dead Yet — June 11, 2021)
Despite the absence of an irreversible or terminal condition, St. David’s South Austin Medical Center (SDMC) physicians deprived Mr. Michael Hickson, a 46-year-old black man with multiple disabilities, of all life-sustaining treatment including artificial nutrition and hydration for six days resulting in his death.
“Local resident calls for end of nursing home visitation restriction”
(Burnet Bulletin — July 30, 2020)
“By state law, he is isolated in one room as the Covid scare raised its ugly head in our facility. He is alone, frightened, confused, and most concerning, he is declining. This quarantine seems similar to solitary confinement in prison, where lack of contact is part of the punishment….
“We are allowed to only see them through the windows of the facility. I have seen residents locked in their rooms crying and clawing at the windows to try and touch and see their families. What are we doing? Are we trying to protect them from dying of the virus, or I ask, is dying of old age, loneliness, fear and panic better?”
More on Coronavirus
More on Loneliness
“How Deeply Ableist is Mainstream Media”
(Not Dead Yet — July 19, 2020)
A man named Michael Hickson died on June 11, 2020. He was denied food and fluids for 6 days. He was a Black man. His wife, Melissa, had ample evidence that his death was deliberate and was the result of prejudice. Yet almost no stories in the mainstream media mention his death and outrage is coming from the disability rights movement and a few shocked ethicists. Michael was quadriplegic.
More on Disability Perspective
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“The Deadly ‘Quality of Life’ Ethic”
(First Things — July 6, 2020)
Something evil happened recently in Austin. Michael Hickson, a forty-six-year-old African-American man with quadriplegia and a serious brain injury, was refused treatment at St. David Hospital South Austin while ill of CVI-19.
Also see: Futile Care
“Quadriplegic coronavirus patient, 46, dies after Texas hospital stop treating him because ‘it wouldn’t improve his quality of life'”
(Daily Mail — July 3, 2020)
Shortly after arriving, a physician told Michael Hickson’s wife, Melissa, that he didn’t think treatment would improve her husband’s quality of life due to his disabilities…
In a recorded video, the doctor told Melissa that patients who were being treated with a drug were “walking and talking” unlike her husband.
More on Disability Perspective
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“Searching for Fairness: Examining the Texas Advance Directives Act in Light of the Clear and Convincing Evidence Standard”
(Houston Law Review — Vol. 56, Issues 3, 2019, March 01, 2019)
“TADA will continue to allow physicians and hospitals to unilaterally remove life-sustaining treatment from those whom these doctors deem unworthy to continue treating. The best relief would be if the statute were repealed altogether of amended so that at least there would be more time to find another facility to take the patient.”
“Frisco hospice owner urged nurses to overdose patients so they would die quicker, FBI says”
(Source: Dallas Morning News — TX — March 29, 2015)
The owner of a Frisco medical company regularly directed nurses to overdose hospice patients with drugs such as morphine to speed up their deaths and maximize profits and sent text messages like, “You need to make this patient go bye-bye,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant obtained by NBC 5.
More on hospice
“A tragic end for a tiny child prompts family to campaign for euthanasia”
(Washington Post — March 28, 2014)
“[T]he family of Natalie Newton made the decision to remove her feeding tube and let her starve to death….Newton said the ordeal has tramatized his family and now he’s seeking to change the laws in Texas. The family is petitioning Texas Gov. Rick Perry to make legal the option to euthanize.”
“NDY President Diane Coleman Submits Comments on Futile Care Policies”
(April 22, 2013)
The common thread running through stories we hear is that our lives with disability are seen as less worth living, so much less that health care providers too often think that death is the correct course. They press this viewpoint on us, our families and sometimes even overrule us when we disagree.
“A Texas Senate Bill Would Revise the State’s End-of-Life Procedure”
(New York Times — March 30, 2013)
State law allows physicians to discontinue treatment they deem medically futile. If a physician’s decision to end treatment contradicts the patient’s advance directive or the judgment of the patient’s surrogates, state law gives patients or their families 10 days to find another provider and appeal the doctor’s decision to a hospital ethics committee.
Testimony of Wesley J. Smith before the Texas Health and Human Services Committee in Opposition to S.B. 303
(March 19, 2014)
“Forced DNR Coming to Texas?”
(National Review — February 11, 2013)
The state with the worst futile care law in the nation now has legislation pending that would enable doctors to place DNR (do not resuscitate) orders on a patient’s chart without notice or permission even if the patient is competent! Text of S.B. 303.
“12-Year-Old Boy Doctors Wanted to Die Now in Rehab”
(Source: National Review — October 11, 2011)
Look into the future if Obamacare remains. Texas has a futile care law permitting a hospital bioethics panel to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment if they don’t think the patient’s life is worth the cost or has sufficient quality. It is like the old signs over restaurant doors, “We reserve the right to refuse service.” If the futile care protocol had been enforced, he might well be dead.
“Forced Dehydration for 12-Year-Old Gunshot Victim?”
(National Review — August 20, 2012)
Texas has an awful futile care law. It permits hospital bioethics committee to impose member/doctors’ values that a patient’s life is not worth living based on quality of life.
On August 6, a 12-year-old boy was shot in the head. Even though a reliable diagnosis and prognosis for persistent unconsciousness requires at least 3 months, hospital personnel reported wend in rapid succession from “donate his organs” to “end his life” mode.
“Reliance on high-tech and high-turnover leading to lawsuits in ‘hospitalist’ heavy San Antonio”
(San Antonio Current — December 7, 2011)
Olga De La Zerda went into a Metropolitan Methodist Hospital on February 16 to determine if a bit of congestion was a sign of a more serious infection. It should have been a simple day of observation in the hospital….A death certificate says De La Zerda died of septic shock, with pneumonia and acute respiratory failure as contributing conditions. But relatives are convinced that a multitude of medications — administered against the family’s wishes caused adverse reactions that eventually shut down De La Zerda’s body…
“Teen’s move sidesteps futile-care controversy”
(Houston Chronicle — July 1, 2011)
Jordan Allen was transferred from Texas Children’s Hospital to a long-term acute-care facility on Thursday, beating the pediatric hospital’s plan to remove his life support by five days.