The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

August 1, 2012

Texas has legal steps to resolve life-support issues

Ask An Attorney

In this week’s installments of “Ask an Attorney” we will discuss life support issues. For more detailed answers, you should consult an attorney.

My sister lives in Texas, and her father-in-law is on life support in Dallas. She and her husband want to remove him from life support because his brain shows no function, but the doctor (who is billing Medicare) doesn’t want to remove him. Is it true that in Texas, life support can be legally provided to a patient when the doctor disagrees with the family? — John L., Baton Rouge

Yes. There is a process dealing with that situation outlined in the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA). Every state has similar laws to deal with this type disagreement about life-sustaining treatment. Texas stands alone, however, by including detailed legal steps to help resolve the issue. This part of Texas law has drawn attention from across the nation because it allows removal, or provision, of life support against the will of the family.

Two legal principles are very important to remember. First, all people have the right to refuse or decline any treatment. It follows that no person can demand — and expect to receive — any treatment they wish. The second principle flows from the first; no provider (nor facility) can be forced to participate in, or provide treatments when it conflicts with personal conscience or professional standards. To a large extent, these principles do not apply in an emergency setting.

When a person afflicted with a terminal and irreversible condition is being treated in an acute health care setting (most often in an intensive care unit), there comes a time when science can no longer offer cure or recovery. The best care available is focused on the hope for comfort and dignity, care which recognizes that death is a natural occurrence of life. When the known wishes of the patient — usually represented by a surrogate — conflict with the treatment opinions of the doctor, open and honest communications usually clarify which goals can be achieved.

When all else fails to bring agreement — and no doctor and facility will accept transfer — the law specifies timetables and meetings of those concerned, guided by an ethics committee. Usually, resolutions are accomplished along the way, but if not, the outcome may be removal of life-sustaining treatment against the will of the family or against the will of the physician (where the family wished to allow a natural death, but the doctor disagreed).

The law does allow petition of a local court to extend the time limits for the purpose of finding another doctor and facility to accept the patient. This is a moot point, however, because by this time all prospects have been contacted. In addition, the Texas Department of Health keeps a public website listing facilities who will accept these patients.

Text Only
Opinion
  • School supplies, football signs of end of summer

    It is not here yet, but there are two landmarks on the horizon which traditionally indicate the end of summer is approaching.

    July 27, 2014

  • This is ... summer?

    Just sitting here, wondering what season this is again ...
    — Seriously, this is summer? In Texas?

    July 20, 2014

  • Why no to YMCA?

    Sometimes the lack of news can be just as disturbing as the daily barrage of bad news.

    July 5, 2014

  • Service members deserve our thanks

    More than two million active and reserve military personnel serve in the United States Military across the world: from just down the road in Fort Worth to the Forward Operating Base Jackson in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, U.S. men and women endure harsh conditions, potentially fatal missions, rigorous training and heart-aching separation.

    July 5, 2014

  • Texas should not have to face surge alone

    Texas political leaders recently announced an increase in funding and personnel to secure the Texas-Mexico border.

    June 27, 2014

  • Closer to Cliff than Homer on any Father’s Day

    It is Father’s Day, the one day a year when sons and daughters (hopefully) remember to thank Dear Old Dad for all he has meant to them over the years.

    June 15, 2014

  • Lives depend on how we drive

    Local roads and highways have been the scene of six motor vehicle accident fatalities over the past week.

    June 11, 2014

  • Summer’s here, ready or not

    Too late, summer’s here ...
    — The occupants of the Kellar Estate once again find themselves preparing for the annual onslaught of heat and humidity which is summer in Texas.

    June 8, 2014

  • YMCA 'ball' now in city's court

    The YMCA/event center project is now back on track, thanks to a $1 million pledge from L-3 Mission Integration. It has been more than a year since Greenville voters approved a $15 million bond to build to new Y.

    June 1, 2014

  • In just a flash, she's turned 15

    Shaking my head in disbelief once again ...
    Jaylynn is 15.
    Let that sink in for a minute.

    May 25, 2014

Featured Ads
Promotions
Poll

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Yes
No
Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Facebook
Must Read
Photos


See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide