Hot Topics: Health Care

Blog Posts (2064)

July 3, 2015

Medical Futility Blog 2015-07-03 05:30:00

For Independence Day weekend, I am happy to announce that: The Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) recently expanded its agenda to include The End of Life Liberty Project, to protect and expand the liberties of persons approaching end of life, engag...
July 3, 2015

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living [EOL in Art 53]

Damien Hirst's 1991 "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" forces the viewer out of their element by introducing into a gallery setting, a shark that was real enough to frighten you.  The work consists of a thirteen-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde, weighing a total of 23 tons.

By isolating the shark from its natural habitat, with the formaldehyde providing an illusion of life, the work explores our greatest fears, and the difficulty involved in adequately trying to express them. Hirst states: “You try and avoid death, but it’s such a big thing that you can’t. That’s the frightening thing isn’t it?

July 2, 2015

Jahi McMath - Re-litigating the Determination of Death

Jahi McMath Death Certificate In March 2015, the family of Jahi McMath brought a medical malpractice action against Oakland Children's Hospital and several individual clinicians. I recently blogged about the defendants' demurrers.  Since ...
July 2, 2015

California Mom Christy O’Donnell Fights to Die on Her Own Terms

I make a brief appearance in Katie Couric's interview of Christy O’Donnell about her fight to die on her own terms.

July 2, 2015

After the Supreme Court Decision on Lethal Injection Drug, More Questions

Lillian Ringel and Stephanie Holmquist
July 2, 2015

Even Superheroes Die [EOL in Art 52]

In "Not About Death" Argentina-based photographer Romina Ressia chronicles Superman, Snow White and Wonder Woman as elderly folks, still donning their uniforms. But instead of the flowing manes and perfect complexions of comic or fairy tale y...
July 1, 2015

In California, Vaccination is the Law

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

This week, California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277. This law mandates vaccinations for all children who attend a school (public or private) in the state.…

July 1, 2015

Bioethics Commission Recommends Multidisciplinary Efforts to Support Neuroscience and Ethics Research and Education

On March 26 the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released the second volume of its two-volume report on neuroscience and ethics, Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 2), which takes an in-depth look at three topics that have captured the public’s attention: […]
July 1, 2015

Sexual morality and the goodness of God

Last week I wrote about Robert George’s presentation at the CBHD summer conference. He expressed very clearly how important the difference is between seeing human beings as a unity of spirit and body and seeing human beings as non-bodily persons who inhabit and use non-personal bodies. We have seen one of the implications of that difference play itself out this week in the Supreme Court... // Read More »
July 1, 2015

Legal Briefing: Adult Orphans and the Unbefriended: Making Medical Decisions for Unrepresented Patients without Surrogates

The summer 2015 issue of THE JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ETHICS is out.  I contributed "Legal Briefing: Adult Orphans and the Unbefriended: Making Medical Decisions for Unrepresented Patients without Surrogates."  

Here is the abstract:

This issue’s “Legal Briefing” column covers recent legal developments involving medical decision making for incapacitated patients who have no available legally authorized surrogate decision maker. These individuals are frequently referred to either as “adult orphans” or as “unbefriended,” “isolated,” or “unrepresented” patients. 

The challenges involved in obtaining consent for medical treatment on behalf of these individuals have been the subject of major policy reports. Indeed, caring for the unbefriended has even been described as the “single greatest category of problems” encountered in bioethics consultation.
In 2012, JCE published a comprehensive review of the available mechanisms by which to make medical decisions for the unbefriended. The purpose of this “Legal Briefing” is to update the 2012 study. Accordingly, this “Legal Briefing” collects and describes significant legal developments from only the past three years. 

My basic assessment has not changed. “Existing mechanisms to address the issue of decision making for the unbefriended are scant and not uniform.” Most facilities are “muddling through on an ad hoc basis.” 

But the situation is not wholly negative. There have been a number of promising new initiatives. I group these developments into the following seven categories:
  1. Increased Attention and Discussion
  2. Prevention through Better Advance Care Planning
  3. Prevention through Expanded Default Surrogate Lists
  4. Statutorily Authorized Intramural Mechanisms
  5. California Litigation Challenging the Team Approach
  6. Public Guardianship
  7. Improving Existing Guardianship Processes