Thursday, June 15, 2017

Life and death decisions are being made behind closed doors

The Tank Family

You have to check out Bob Tank's story on our website. Bob's daughter, Genevieve Marnon, is part of the Right to Life of Michigan legislative team in Lansing. His story and similar stories we've heard recently are setting off alarm bells about how our hospitals are handling end-of-life decisions. Bob's story could be your story some day. Here's an excerpt:

Bob’s experience in the emergency room was common to anyone who has faced a life-threatening blood clot. The emergency room staff focused on stabilizing Bob and succeeded in their mission. He was then transferred to the intensive care unit, where he would recover as they worked to dissolve the clot in his lungs.

Genevieve said her father was only 76 years old and in decent health given his chronic condition. He was enjoying the twilight of his life with his family. He had lived more than year after his previous doctor said he could “go” at any time. Bob had not left yet, and Genevieve said her father was not quite ready to go.

Instead of being allowed to heal—to spend his remaining days at home with family—the very coherent and aware Bob became the nearly helpless subject of efforts to hasten his death. The wishes of the hospital quickly diverged from those of the patient.

“It wasn’t until they learned of his end-stage emphysema that they changed,” Genevieve said.

Genevieve said sometime in the night after his admission Bob suffered what the hospital vaguely told them was an “episode.” Things quickly began to go wrong from there.

Bob’s family noticed he was exhibiting signs of dehydration. They noticed his IV line was hooked up, but not actually providing him with fluids. When questioned about this, the doctor matter-of-factly told Genevieve giving Bob fluids would “only prolong the inevitable.”


Bob's story highlights two growing problems that you need to be aware of. We intend to address these issues in the near future with two pieces of legislation.

The first bill, Simon's Law, is inspired by a story and legislation out of Kansas. It would stop the heinous practice of secret DNR orders that override the wishes of patients or their parents.

The second bill would deal with nearly unbelievable situations that we're hearing more and more of lately; doctors and hospitals have being going to court in secret to strip patients of their caregivers to withhold medical care. Families have shown up at the hospital to learn the hospital is suddenly now in charge of their loved one by court order. The second bill would prevent secret courts from overriding patient's wishes and restore a basic legal presumption that it is a patient's best interest to be alive.

There are real situations where patient advocates can't let go and are no longer making decisions in the best interest of the patient. Those legal disputes must be approached fairly in court in the light of day—not in secret and in service to medical cost-cutting.