Texas is trying to send a message that a patient's rights and family member's rights can't be overlooked in a dire medical situation.
Over the years, OneNewsNow has reported various cases in Texas in which a critically ill patient on life support, who didn't wish to die, was refused treatment and did die. Texas Right to Life Committee attorney Emily Cook explains how that came about.
"Since 1999, Texas has been home to a law that allows hospital physicians and what's called 'ethics committees' – because they're made up of persons employed by hospitals – to override patients' wishes regarding, specifically, life-sustaining treatment," she shares.
Effectively, that gives the committee the ultimate authority as to whether to continue treatment such as artificial nutrition and hydration, dialysis, and ventilators – "And we're seeing more and more lately [that it includes] different types of blood pressure medicine; things that without a person cannot live," Cook adds.
The opinions of legal surrogates don't matter either, the attorney explains. Desperate family members, after being notified the plug is going to be pulled on their loved one, must struggle to find an attorney to file suit – or find a medical facility that will care for the patient within ten days.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion saying the "Futile Care Law" has constitutional problems, stating:
"The statute leads to the denial of a constitutionally protected interest – the right to life and the right to determine one's medical treatment. And it does so through woefully insufficient procedures – Section 166.046 [of the statute] not only denies patients sufficient notice and opportunity to be heard, it does not even afford patients with a neutral arbiter to decide their fate."
Proposals before both houses of the state legislature, if passed, would require the hospital to keep a patient alive and to find the alternative source to sustain the life until he or she can be transferred. The House bill is HB 4090; the Senate version is SB 1213.