Andrea Clark Gets New Doctor Family Says, "Futile Care" Proceedings Stopped

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Andrea Clark Gets New Doctor Family Says, "Futile Care" Proceedings Stopped Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 2, 2006

Houston, TX (LifeNews.com) — There is good news for Andrea Clark and her family in the rapidly changing euthanasia case involving a Texas "futile care" law. The Clark family reports that Andrea has received a new doctor who is not planning to give up on her medical care and treatment.

As a result, Clark’s family are not pressed to find a new medical facility that will provide her appropriate care.

Jerri Ward, the attorney for Clark’s family, told LifeNews.com about the latest developments.

"St. Luke’s is doing the right thing in this case now. The physician team met with the new attending and it went well," Ward said.

"The team is on board and the medical futility procedure has been stopped. For the time being, Andrea will continue to receive life-sustaining and appropriate treatment at St. Luke’s," Ward told LifeNews.com.

"St. Luke’s, and the involved physicians, are to be commended for reconsidering and deciding to continue Andrea’s care," Ward added.

Meanwhile, Andrea’s sister Melanie Childers told the North Country Gazette newspaper, "Because this new doctor took over her case, it is all stopped. I’m so happy, I don’t know what to think or say or do."

"Not only is my sister not going to be put to death by St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital but it also looks like she is recovering from her heart surgery, finally," Childers told the Gazette.

Clark’s sister indicated that Dr. Matthew Lentz has told the family that Clark will be able to get off of blood pressure raising drugs she has been on for months and he is cutting in half the amount of pain medications she is on. That will allow Clark to be able to better interact with her family, Childers indicated.

Clark’s case is the latest fight in the post-Terri Schiavo world where doctors employing what detractors call the "futile care theory" saying a patient is beyond medical help and are refusing to treat her.

Clark, 54, suffered complications following open heart surgery and required a ventilator and dialysis to survive. Her motor control faculties were damaged but, her family says her cognitive abilities were unaffected.

Burke Balch, J.D., director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com, "Andrea Clark is not brain dead — she is a sick patient with a family desperate to ensure that she continues to receive medical treatment."

Balch said Clark should "not be left to die."

However, on April 19, St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, where Clark is a patient, informed her family that her medical care would be discontinued in 10 days — following a Texas law that provides medical facilities the right to give a family 10 days notice that treatment will be withdrawn.

In what pro-life advocates say is a direct act of passive euthanasia, a hospital committee decided Clark’s condition was beyond hope and refused further medical treatment.

Clark’s family, working with the hospital, found a hospice in Chicago that would take her, but the arrangement fell through.

As a result, St. Luke’s planned to move forward on its threat to withhold treatment, but Andrea’s attorney, Jerri Lynn Ward, served St. Luke’s with a cease and desist order on Monday.

LifeNews.com has been provided with a copy of the order. In it, Ward tells the hospital, "Because Andrea is heavily sedated and is limited in her ability to communicate treatment decisions to her physicians and the hospital, the family is empowered under law to make such decisions on her behalf."

"The family is united in its decision that life-sustaining treatments should NOT be withdrawn or withheld from Andrea Clark pending transfer to another physician or facility," Ward writes.

Ward said Clark’s family does not believe she is a "futile case" and cited at least one physician who says otherwise. The letter says the family is having a hard time finding another medical facility for Clark because of the "futile case" label applied to her.