Posted on August 3, 2014 at 8:17 AM
The Boston Globe has a wonderful profile of the life of Haleigh Poutre. Her story powerfully illustrates the limits of prognostication for some critically ill patients.
During the early 2000s, Haleigh had been abused by her adoptive parents. Eventually, in 2005, when she was 11 years old, Haleigh was brought to a local ED with a severe brain injury. She was soon diagnosed in a persistent vegetative state, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court authorized the Department of Children & Families to stop life-sustaining treatment.
But Haleigh got better. Just a day after the Supreme Judicial Court authorized the removal of Haleigh’s life support, she was showing signs of mental alertness. She was looking around her hospital room, clearly attentive. The Boston Globe story shows her life today.
As I have written, the close call in Haleigh’s case prompted Massachusetts to pass sweeping child-welfare reform measures, including the need for medical input from at least two different institutions before making decisions in end-of-life cases.