John Hawkins at Right Wing News has a heart wrenching story posted at Democratic Underground about Andrea Clarke whose doctors want to withhold treatment and allow her to die even though she is capable of communicating; however, she’s been medicated into unconsciousness.
Here’s part of Melanie’s post:
The hospital ethics committee met the day before yesterday and concluded that Andrea’s treatment (respirator and dialysis) should be discontinued. We have ten days to move her from that hospital or they will “pull the plug” and let Andrea die. Andrea, until a few days ago, when the physicians decided to increase her pain medication and anesthetize her into unconsciousness, was fully able to make her own medical decisions and had decided that she wanted life saving treatment until she dies naturally. We have learned that this is part of the process, when hospitals decided to declare the “medical futility” of continueing treatment for a patient. But, this is not a Terry Schiavo case; not anything like it. Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant. She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason, or speech. She has only suffered loss of some motor control. The reason that the physician gave to medicate her so much is that she is suffering from intractable pain in the sacral region (in other words, she has a bedsore that causes her pain). This is not reason enough, in our books, and we are trying, as we speak, to get Andrea’s medication lowered so that she can speak to us.
There is also some disagreement as to whether Andrea is really in that much pain, as well. When she is not medicated to this degree, and she sees her son, Charles, she smiles. She also mouths words (Andrea is very vocal, normally, even with a trach, and asks for food, etc., when she is not medicated to the gills). Once again, this is not like the Shiavo case, where there was brain death. Andrea has voiced her wishes, over and over again, and if she were not on so much pain medication, she would voice them again.
Houston hospitals have a policy in that once the medical treatment of a patient has been deemed “medically futile” no other hospital in the area will accept transfer of that patient to their facility. This means that the patient, who is usually in a very delicate condition anyway, has to be transported over a long distance, in order to receive care.
We received notice of the ethics committee decision the day before yesterday and we are organizing a protest to take place tomorrow, at 2-2:30pm outside St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. Our family members number four and we will all be there, but we need more people. Please help us.
This protest is very likely to be filmed and get news coverage.
For those of you who will reply to this post with more questions, please see my other posts on this topic. I have done my best to answer all of your questions, but as you can imagine, my mind is not working as efficiently as it should, because I am upset. I assure you this is real; this is happening, and in Texas, medical professionals have the right, under the Futile Care Law, to discontinue life saving treatment, under these circumstances, even while the patient and the family is protesting that action. If you need more information, please see my other posts on this topic. For now, we need help, not questions or suggestions as to further courses of action. We are fighting on all fronts, ie., lawyers, news media, churches, internet, etc. We have left no stone unturned in this battle.
Many, many people, even some medical professionals in Texas, and other areas, don’t know about this law. They have no idea that this can be done, and it is is being done every day in Texas hospitals, but is not covered by the news media. This needs to become common knowledge and this law needs to be overturned, of course, but we are fighting for the life of our sister. We are fighting to see that her wishes about how she lives, and how she dies, are honored. Perhaps these kinds of battles are fought in just this way, one by one, out of love, and this is how the war is won, in the end.
Please help us. Please lend your presence to our fight at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas, located at 6720 Bertner Ave. at 2-2:30pm CST tomorrow (Saturday). If you would like to bring a sign, please do so, because we only have a limited amount. If you don’t, then please just bring yourself.
My name is Melanie Childers and my cell phone number is: 832-221-****. My sister (not the one in the hospital, but the one handling the protest) is Lanore Dixon and her numbers are: (cell) 214-577-**** and 254-874-****. Please do not call us unless you are calling to request some information that I have not posted here. We have our phones glued to our heads, trying to find a hospital that will take Andrea, before her ten days are up at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. I am posting these numbers only to show you that this is not some kind of scam, or a joke or something even more idiotic.
As I’ve said a number of times before, medical bioethicist is simply code for death squad. Andrea needs help. If you live in the Houston area and can help, get Melanie’s phone number on the original post and contact her. Her sister’s life matters.
A note: yes this post came from Democratic Underground, but this issue is bigger than politics. I’d appreciate it if those who are tempted to make a less than civil remark contain themselves. I write this because I’ve seen a few pop up in the comment section of other blogs, and, in the context of this issue, it’s really inappropriate.
Update: Texas Rainmaker has more information about Ms. Clarke’s situation including contact names and numbers if you want to express your feelings about this case.
Update II: John Hawkins has a lot more information on this case. He spoke with Melanie’s attorney, Jeri Ward, and she confirmed the details in Melanie’s post. Jeri also left a comment on John’s site about the case:
“Okay, I can’t stand this anymore. First, we have tried facilities offering every conceivable level of care. She is on a respirator and getting dialysis. There are some nursing homes that offer respirator care and no dialysis and vice versa. The long term acute care facilities see that the hospital says she is “futile” and say they can’t take her because they are there to rehabilitate and send patients to a lower continuum of care. Other hospitals rely on the “futility” diagnosis. A provider won’t take a patient just on the say so of the family–they talk to the hospital. The hospital believes she is futile. It’s a catch-22.
The law sets ethics committees up as quasi-judicial entities that have no other oversight. There is no effective or fast way to dispute the decision of “futility”.
The law provides only 10 days to find another place and to go to court to request more time. In court, you have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a reasonable expectation of transfer. So for ten days you try to transfer or get evidence that somebody will take her.
I will have to challenge the entire law–that is a huge undertaking and ten days is not enough time to do it in.
And, yes, they will pull the plug on the 10th day.”
John also reports that a local news station has reported on the story.
Others who are outraged:
My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Riehl World View
Ankle Biting Pundits
Interesting. Indymedia Houston also linked the story – for once it seems right and left are on the same side.
medical bioethicist is simply code for death squad
Gawd, YOU SAID IT. I’ve been saying it too. Talk about false advertising!
It’s not ethics, it’s EUGENICS.
Blunt but related questions:
1) Who is paying the medical bills and what do they think?
2) Are scarce resources being utilized for this “futile” treatment, denying someone else needing non-futile treatment, or not?
3) If medical insurance is involved, what kind and has it reached its max?
Maybe what she wants to say to all of your gangrene laden gasbags is to go fuck yourselves.
I am not tryiing to be mean, but I cannot help but observe that this is the fruit of the very policies endorsed by those at DU. It is a little different when it actually happens to YOU though, isn’t it?
P.S. I did not mean for that last remark to be snide. They have my full prayers and support. Pro-Lifers WILL get involved.
Andrea Clarke does have health insurance, good insurance, it is not maxed out either. Just FYI.
This is not the fruit of what DU preachs either.
If you are referring to the Schiavo case, this is very different. Andrea Clarke is not brain dead. She is heavily medicated for pain, but she is able to communicate. This is the direct effect of a Texas law passed by Bush. This is a woman who can speak for herself when her meds have worn off. This is not the same.
Yes, after further research it appears the woman is covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and her family believes it it pressure from the insurance company on the hospital that is causing the plug to be pulled, per posts at DU (http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=364&topic_id=986779&mesg_id=995406). It is not clear if she has reached the maximum coverage of the BCBS policy, but it appears not.
It is not clear to me whether ICU beds are at a premium and this is being considered triage or not. But I doubt it.
I think I asked the right questions.
The fact that President Bush signed the Texas Futile Care bill into law in 1999 is being repeated by lefty blogs over all over the internet as proof of Bush’s “hypocrisy” and “inconsistency.” This has been making the rounds since the Terri Schiavo case. I was unaware of this and it gave me pause, because it does make Bush’s positions seem inconsistent. Why would he do this, given his stated pro-life beliefs? How does signing Futile Care into law square with this statement:
“In cases like [Terri Schiavo], where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.”
I have done some digging and it turns out that the Lefty spin appears to be a LIE BY OMISSION. Bush had previously vetoed a version of the bill, PUSHED BY THE LEGISLATURE and signed a second, compromise version of the bill only after additional patient safeguards had been added. As bad as the law is, sometimes governors are forced to face political realities and sign things they would rather not. This seems to be the case here.
I was only able to find this out by extensive digging. If anyone in Texas or elsewhere has more information on the political realities of how this bill came into law, I would very much appreciate it if you would enlighten us further [or contact me directly]. We need to shed a little light on the Democrat spin.
I was not referring to Terri Schiavo, but the Darwinist worldview and the pro-death positions of the Left in general. Where do you think “Futile Care Theory” comes from? If does not come from the right, I can assure you. Look up the “bioethics” teachings of such people as Joseph Fletcher.
Interesting. The banner at St Lukes web page is: St. Luke’s/Live More.
BCBS Tex banner is at:
rotating plugs for compassion/imagination: shining through
UPDATE on my previous comment regarding Bush`s signing Futile Care. The DailyKOS (of all places) admitted getting it wrong and posted a correction outlining the essential true facts. Unfortunately, this is still not preventing the left from repeating the charge ad-nauseum.
Holy crap. The stopped clock may be in danger of losing ground.
Seriously, though, good for Kos.
The use of “pro-death” is a very serious claim. Show me the document that uses the words “Pro-death” and I may listen to you. However, my point is that Andrea’s case is not a politcal case because it is being fought for on both sides of the political arena. The community being fought here is the medical community. This is an issue that should unite people, not create more chaos.
Dana, I don’t think “medical people” is accurate either. Its the suits running medical enterprises (health care systems) and the insurance businesses forcing decisions based on economics shrouded in medical justifications (made by folks who are by nature associated with the health care business and dependent upon the insurance businesses). Call it the Health Care Business-Insurance Complex if you like.
I never said medical people, I included the entire medical community from the suits down to the nurses that work within that community. But regardless, as I said before this is a case about bringing people together. We should all be fighting together here for the same result.