Do I need an attorney? If so, what type of attorney would handle a case where a Dr. is trying to give patient overdose?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Houston, TX

I am the Medical Power of Attorney for my grandmother, who has been hospitalized since February 2012. The story is very long because it has been going on for over nine (9) months now, however there are DOZENS of incidents that have caused her to be in the position she is in currently. The most pressing issue right now, is that she is in the ICU at a hospital and had to be placed on a ventilator and her pulmonary disease physician, who is also the Medical Director of the hospital she is a patient at, called me in to speak with me on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. When I sat down to speak with him, he went into what sounded like a sales pitch to get me to agree to kill the patient. He wants to turn off the ventilator that she requested and give her very high doses of Morphine to "let her go".

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Don Karotkin

    Contributor Level 16

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    Answered . Because you don't describe the "dozens of incidents," whether you think anyone did anything wrong, or how any of the incidents harmed your grandmother, I can't say whether or not consulting a lawyer about those matters is indicated. If it is, you should consult a Houston lawyer who is certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. A link to the Board's website appears below.

    The pulmonologist is not committing medical malpractice by suggesting that you consent to turn off the ventilator and let your grandmother go. Obviously, he is of the opinion that she is terminally ill, death is imminent in any event, and prolonging her suffering is arguably inhumane, not to mention an arguable waste of resources that could be used to treat a person who has a chance to survive. Of course, if she is not really terminally ill and his assessment is or may be wrong, you should seek a second opinion. I suspect there are other physicians treating her. If so, you might consider asking them whether or not they agree with the pulmonologist.

    Turning off the ventilator of a terminally ill person when death is imminent and giving her morphine to make her comfortable is not "killing" the person. It is letting nature take its course. You do not have to follow the pulmonologist's advice and if you don't, he will not "let her go" as he has suggested. He will continue to treat her and if and when she arrests, a full code blue will be conducted in an effort to resuscitate her.

    You are faced with a decision. I had to make the same decision for both of my parents, so I think I know how you feel. In my view, this is generally not a legal issue, but rather an ethical, moral and religious one. I will not presume to tell you what your decision should be.

    I am truly sorry about your grandmother's condition.

    Good luck.

    www.tbls.org

  2. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . I am sorry to hear about the condition of your grandmother. This sounds like a very personal decision to be decided by you and your family.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  3. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Cant comment on the earlier incidents. Consult with a local med mal atty. As to the decision to stop life support, that is up to you as set forth in the MPOA. This is not a legal issue, but one for you and family to make. If the hospital goes against your directions, you may have a claim. Did she have a DNR order on file?

  4. Kenneth Lee LaBore

    Pro

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    Answered . I cannot comment on the "DOZENS of incidents" that you reference I can say that it is my experience as a elder abuse and neglect attorney that the value of seniors is diminishing and that hospitals and insurers make a cold cost benefit analysis for care at the end of life.

    It sounds like the MD (who is wearing two hats as Medical Director and Physician) was trying to get you as the POA to make the tough call. It is does not the hospital or doctor gave medication to "let her go" without consent.

    I empathize with your situation and wish you the best

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