Hospital removes life-saving treatment from disabled man in the name of “dignity”

Dale Luce pleads for the life of his brother Wayde.

Life Legal is working with the brother of a 52-year-old man who is being denied life-saving medical treatment at a California hospital in violation of a court order. The hospital says the man must die with “dignity.”

Wayde Luce, 52, was admitted to John Muir Hospital in Concord, California, on January 23 for emergency dialysis treatment. Contrary to his family’s wishes, the hospital gave Wayde Fentanyl and Ativan—two powerful drugs that cause central nervous depression. According to the CDC, Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Wayde’s brother, Dale Luce, asked the hospital not to sedate Wayde. Wayde was anxious and nauseous and Dale was concerned he would choke on his vomit if he were sedated.

The hospital disregarded Dale’s request. When Dale learned that his brother had received the sedatives, he instructed the hospital staff to closely monitor Wayde.

Just a few hours later, Wayde did in fact aspirate on his vomit, which triggered a heart attack.

As a result of the heart attack, Wayde suffered a brain injury that left him incapacitated. The hospital told Wayde’s family he was brain dead and would never breathe on his own or recover any brain function. But just a few days later, Wayde started breathing on his own again and is off the ventilator. He can open his eyes and responds to questions by blinking. He can lift his head off his pillow.

The hospital maintains that these developments are “involuntary” and is now withholding treatment from Wayde, including dialysis and blood pressure support. Initially, doctors said Wayde’s blood pressure was too low and that dialysis would be dangerous. However, Wayde has been able to maintain his blood pressure without medication—but the hospital still refuses to provide treatment.

Dale called Life Legal in a panic, saying his brother’s condition was deteriorating and that he would die if he didn’t get dialysis soon.

Life Legal attorneys helped Dale obtain a court order requiring the hospital to provide medical care, including dialysis. But today hospital staff said they will not change Wayde’s care plan—which means they are still denying treatment and knowingly violating the judge’s order.

Wayde has a valid advance directive stating that he wants “full treatment”—that is, all measures necessary to sustain his life.

“It is unconscionable for John Muir Hospital to deny Wayde Luce the medical treatment he needs to survive.” said Life Legal Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “Wayde’s injuries happened on their watch. The hospital’s role is to facilitate his recovery—not insist on his death.”

Life Legal will pursue all legal means to ensure that Wayde Luce receives the care he needs.