Topic: Decision Making Regarding Life Support
In 1990, a 26-year-old woman collapsed at home and suffered brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation. The medical malpractice case that ensued resulted in a monetary judg-ment and trust fund adequate to pay for her lifetime care. Some medical and legal specialists have argued that she does not meet all the criteria of a persistent vegetative state. Nevertheless, since her initial collapse, due to her limited state of consciousness, she has been dependent on medically assisted nutrition and hydration administered by gastric tube. This level of support is necessary for her survival, as she is unable to feed herself. Although some have argued in this case that the woman’s apparent eye contact, gestures, and movements indicate that rehabilitation is possible, other specialists state that these are mere reflexes. What is clear is that she did not provide written documentation of her desires prior to the event and that she is not able to speak for herself. She is not ventilator dependent, not brain dead, not in a comatose state, not terminally ill, and not in imminent danger of death given that she has had no problem assimilating the nutrition.Unfortunately, there is disagreement in the family as to what needs to be done, and a long and exhaustive legal battle has ensued. Her husband has affirmed that he remembers his wife stating that she would not wish to be kept alive in such a condition. Her parents and siblings, on the other hand, have taken comfort in the limited responses she can give and feel that with appropriate rehabilitation, she can make some level of recovery.The woman’s parents and siblings have volunteered to take responsibility for her care, but the husband has refused this, stating that he wishes to remain true to the desires of his wife and allow her to die. The culmination of the court case came when the judiciary agreed that the feeding tube providing nutrition and hydration could be removed and the appeal to the state Supreme Court was refused. The tube providing nutrition and hydration was removed, which would have resulted in her death; however, in an extraordinary intervention by the governor and state legislature, the tube has been reinserted.
Discuss the following questions:1.What do you think is most appropriate in this case?2.Would it affect your judgment if you knew: a.The husband will gain financially when his wife dies.b.The husband is living with another woman and they have children.c.One of the nurses on staff has sworn under oath that when giving the husband an update, he said “When is that bitch going to die?