Can a hospital and/or doctor force someone off life support in California?

Asked about 1 year ago - Anaheim, CA

My dad has been in the hospital for five weeks. He is in CCU and is on a vent for breathing and CRRT diaylsis...he has a perfect mind. He is alert when not drugged up. His resent blood work shows he is no longer in liver/kidney failure. He does have cancer and is 82 years young. We are being approached the last two days by social workers and doctors about comfort care so we know where their minds are at! We believe in life and our father wants everything done possible. There is no DNR or wishes to be off life support. What rights do we have as a family in this situation? Can they make a decision to stop treatment and life support? It is against our beliefs to stop life support when their is life?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Rosemary Jane Meagher-Leonard

    Contributor Level 14

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I’m sorry for this painful time in you and your family’s lives. This is a very difficult situation that you are facing. As Attorneys Frederick and McMahon have advised you, the hospital cannot force you to remove your father from life support. Your father and your family’s beliefs should be respected. Attorney McMahon is correct; you need to make sure that you have thoroughly discussed with the doctors whether your father can be expected to recover and his life expectancy.

    Disclaimer: The above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. My responses are intended to provide... more
  2. Ruth Elaine McMahon

    Contributor Level 17

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . One cannot be forced off of life support. Your father has a multitude of medical problems. Have you spoken with the doctors about your father's life expectancy? With comfort care, physical symptoms continue to be addressed, but the emphasis shifts to the alleviation of pain and to giving emotional and spiritual care to the person with a limited life expectancy and his or her family. Talk this over with family members - it is imortant for everyone to receive emotional and spiritual support. If there is no cure for your father's problems, there is difficult but important work to be done in improving your father's quality of life, saying good-bye and grieving together.

  3. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am not a California attorney, but I believe the answer to your main question is NO, they cannot force you to remove life support. They will certainly not suggest this if there is a reasonable chance that your dad can recover meaningful quality of life.

    Your summary does not say whether your dad named anyone to act for him under a Designation of Patient Advocate or Health Care POA form. This may impact the answer to your questions because if your father DID complete these documents, then he gave someone legal authority to make these decisions.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******... more
  4. Edna Carroll Straus

    Contributor Level 18

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The fact that the hospital has approached you about comfort care does not--repeat DOES NOT-- mean they are looking to cease treatment. They are simply doing their jobs. That is ALL.

    Ms. Straus (aka Carroll) may be reached at 800-400-8978 during regular business hours, Pacific Time, or anytime by... more

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