Starving the Uninsured in Texas

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Unfortunately, Texas hospitals continue to exploit futile care laws to forcibly remove care from their patients. Yesterday, we received the following alarming email from Texas Right to Life's Elizabeth Graham:

We have two new cases this week: one is a pediatric case in Dallas, and the other is in Houston. The Houston family is not ready to go public yet, or I would be shouting for assistance from the rooftops.

Regretably, they are a little squeamish about the name of the patient being in the press. I was invited to participate in the futility review process at the Houston facility, and it was disgusting and appalling. The attending physician stated that the patient was definitely NOT brain dead, simply brain damaged from a stroke. The paitent is NOT experiencing organ failure, meaning her lungs, heart, kidneys, liver,...everything is working. The patient has a trach collar, but she breathes on her own, and she processes food and hydration appropriately. She is free from infection.

During the meeting, I pointed out that the withdrawal of food and water would effectively starve the patient to death, and the doctors dismissed me as if I did not understand medical science. I am not sure what exactly is scientific about starvation, but the patient's mother agreed and was bewildered at the discussion of withdrawal of treatment including food and water.

Oh yes, did I mention that the patient has NO insurance? The medical folks involved in these cases adamantly avow that financial considerations never enter into the futility decisions; however, I have yet to hear from the family of any patients with good, adequate health insurance. Our Dallas attorney is working on the pediatric case, and the family was granted some additional days because the facility did not follow proper statutory procedure. This patient has only Medicaid.

Wesley J. Smith has more.

Related: Remember Yenlang Vo - St. David's North Austin Medical Center in Austin informed Mrs. Vo's family that they will end her medical treatment (and therefore her life) on June 5th under the Texas futile care statute.

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For the patient in Houston, who is able to breathe on her own and able to take tube feedings:

We used to use Carnation instant breakfast and gravity to feed patients for those who couldn't afford the canned/ prescription feedings. Great tube feedings, with better fiber and nutrition is as good as any we could buy.

I really don't understand why the patient's in the hospital.


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