The young woman we wrote about in a previous post (June 5) was moved back to the hospital and is receiving nutrition and medical care. It did, however, take a court order to save her life.
The woman had suffered an anoxic brain injury following cardiac arrest and her parents believed she had no hope of recovering. Although she was breathing on her own, she was largely unresponsive. When an adult become incompetent and does not have a living will or healthcare power of attorney, the hospital will look for a representative from one of the following (in order): spouse, adult child, parent, sibling, or another adult who has knowledge of the patient’s preferences and values. In this case, the young woman is not married and does not have adult children, so her mother became her designated representative. As such, she was able to make the decision to have the woman transferred to hospice care and request that she not be given certain treatment–including nutrition and hydration.
Even after the young woman began showing signs of recovery, including asking for food, her mother was insistent that patients with anoxic brain injuries cannot recover. Thus, the young woman was kept in hospice according to the original plan that she be starved to death. What appalled me most is that the hospice physician and nurses refused to acknowledge that the woman was showing clear signs of improvement and continued to deny her nutrition and put her on morphine.
When a close friend of the young woman visited her and saw that she was talking and trying to get out of bed, he tried to get her nutrition reinstated, but instead was told he was not permitted to visit her again. He called Life Legal and one of our affiliated attorneys worked with him to save the young woman’s life and get her the care she needs.
We will keep you posted as to her progress, but she is currently doing very well.