New Texas Law Stops Doctors From Issuing DNR Without a Patient’s Consent

State   Texas Right to Life   Aug 17, 2017   |   12:57PM    Austin, Texas

Yesterday Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 11 into law.  SB 11, one of five Pro-Life reforms on the governor’s agenda for the First Called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature, requires that doctors obtain consent from a patient or the patient’s surrogate before issuing a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order for a hospitalized patient.  Texas Right to Life is please that Governor Abbott prioritized this important step in restoring the rights of hospitalized patients, which has been one of Texas Right to Life’s priorities for years.

SB 11 passed in the House with strong bipartisan support.  The final vote was 122-20, with 25 Democrats voting with the Pro-Life majority.  On Tuesday, the Senate voted 21-10 to approve the House changes to SB 11, and the bill headed to the Governor’s desk.

The victory would not have been possible without the dedication of the bill’s authors, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Representative Greg Bonnen, M.D. (R-Friendswood).  Senator Perry and Dr. Bonnen, a neurosurgeon, worked tirelessly to build consensus among stakeholders during the regular session, but House leadership killed the bill in the spring.  Both authors worked closely to ensure that a strong version of the bill was ushered through both chambers before the close of the special session.

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Texas Right to Life has assisted countless patients and their families challenge an unauthorized Do-Not-Resuscitate Order with hospital administrators or physicians.  Codifying a patient’s right to consent to a DNR order is an important step, though limited in scope, to reestablishing the rights of all patients in Texas hospitals.

Vulnerable patients are still under threat from the Texas Advance Directives Act, also known as the 10-Day-Law (Chapter 166.046 of the Health and Safety Code), which authorizes hospitals to remove life-sustaining care against the wishes of the patient or the patient’s surrogate with no recourse to appeal.  Texas Right to Life thanks Senator Perry and Dr. Bonnen for their dedication to passing the Patient Consent to DNR reform bill and to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott for shepherding this bill to passage.