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Physicians Must Follow Advance Directives Says Georgia Supreme Court

Bucilla Stephenson did it right.  She completed an advance directive with clear and specific instructions.  And she appointed a faithful and diligent agent.  But all this was not enough.

Contrary to her wishes, the attending physician had Bucilla intubated and put on a ventilator.  The nurses urged the physician to call the agent.  But the physician refused.  “I’m not going to call her at six o’clock in the morning . . . .  I’ll wait til, you know, she wakes up  and then I’m going to call her and tell her what happened.”

In later explaining this thought process, the physician explained, “If the family does not want her on the respirator, we can just pull the tube out . . . we can always undo it.”

This week, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed lower court decisions in the case denying the defendants’ claims of immunity.  

Immunity would apply only if the physician had acted in “good faith” compliance with the advance directive.  Instead, the physician decided all by himself what was “right for the patient” and would only later check with the agent to see tell her “what happened” and see if she wanted to “undo”  the procedure already ordered.

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged , . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

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