July 11, 2006
Another Texas Futile Care ControversyTopics:
Twenty-nine 29-year-old Kalilah Roberson-Reese became incapacitated following an emergency cesarean section which claimed the life of her child and left her brain damaged. She was abandoned by her husband and with Medicaid running out doctors invoked the infamous Texas Futile Care Law, and on June 26th a futility review committee voted to discontinue her care. Jerri Ward, an attorney with experience in such cases is fighting for her life:
This case raises questions of whether the law might be used to bury mistakes," said Jerri Ward, an Austin attorney who this week asked a judge to stop Memorial Hermann from withdrawing life support from Roberson-Reese. "At the very least, there is an appearance of a conflict of interest that should preclude a futility review committee from making a life-or-death decision before an independent investigation is made."Memorial Hermann has expressed its sympathy for Roberson-Reese's family and agreed to temporarily drop its plans to remove her life support:
Officials promised to give Ward and the family seven business days notice if they decide to resume plans to withdraw life support. The agreement followed negotiations in the chambers of Harris County Probate Judge Russell Austin and came just two days before the 1999 law would have allowed the hospital to end treatment.
However, there appear to be many questions surrounding Roberson-Reese's care prior to the determination that her life was not valuable enough to treat. After moving to Texas, she first went to Memorial Hermann's hospital in The Woodlands with chest pains and shortness of breath. According to a petition filed by Ward, "hospital doctors repeatedly told Roberson-Reese nothing was wrong and sent her home." In a later visit, blood clots in her leg and she was transferred to Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center, where doctors performed the cesarean section.
Roberson-Reese's condition was critical for more than a month and she needed a tracheal tube to breathe:
The medical charts show Roberson-Reese was moved out of intensive care and into an intermediate unit after showing improvement. But on June 12, the tube was dislodged for a period of time, interrupting her oxygen intake. By the time nurses noticed, Roberson-Reese was unresponsive.Thankfully, the hospital is now open to transferring Roberson-Reese and Texas Right to Life is involved, helping the family.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis of a vegetative state, as reported, is being used to motivate the removal of Roberson-Reese's care. We remember the case of Haleigh Poutre, studies indicating misdiagnosis is common and the testimony of others.
Posted by tim at July 11, 2006 7:30 AM
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