Wesley J. Smith exposes the actions of hospitals around the country — "nobody knows how many" — that have been quietly promulgating internal rules to permit patients to be denied wanted treatment to maintain their lives.
The bioethics committee at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, Texas has decreed that Andrea Clarke should die. Indeed, after a closed-door hearing, it ordered all further medical efforts to sustain her life while at St. Luke's to cease. As a consequence, Clarke's life support, required because of a heart condition and bleeding on the brain, is to be removed unilaterally even though she is not unconscious and her family wants treatment to continue.
Clarke's case involves value judgments rather than medical determinations. In such "qualitative futility" cases, treatment is stopped in spite of a patient's or family's objections — the intervention is necessary not because the treatment doesn't work, but because it does. In essence then, it is the patient's life that is deemed futile and, hence, not worthy of being preserved.
We should also note that the Clarke controversy isn't anything like the Terri Schiavo case. Schiavo's tube-supplied food and fluids were ordered withdrawn (supposedly) to carry out her wishes. But Clarke apparently wants to live and her family all agree that she should continue to be sustained. In other words, it is as if Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, agreed to maintain Terri's feeding tube but a hospital ethics committee overruled their decisions and doctors removed the tube anyway.
Smith also notes the game the hospital is playing to get Andrea Clark out of their facility:
Illustrating the level of hardball some hospitals play against patients and families, the Clarke family's lawyer Jerri Ward told me that St. Luke's agreed to pay the $14,806 transportation costs to transfer Clarke to a hospital in Illinois — more than 1,000 miles away — if the decision to transfer is made on Thursday (4/27). If the family doesn't decide until Friday, the hospital will pay only one-half of the cost of transportation. Thereafter, it would pay nothing.Read the rest here. But before you do, give St. Luke's a call and politely express your opinion:
St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, 6720 Bertner Ave., Houston, TX 77030
Main hospital telephone number - 832-355-1000
Email: click here