Tennessee Hospital Faces Emergency Order Over Revoking Care for 9-Month Baby
by Steven Ertelt
November 23, 2009
Update: 5:19 p.m. EST: After ADF filed its lawsuit, doctors with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital changed their opposition to ongoing care for Baby Gabriel. The ethical panel formally agree to not withdraw his care.
ADF told LifeNews.com: "The agreement between the hospital and Baby Gabriel’s mother has not yet been put in writing. ADF attorneys are withdrawing their motion for temporary restraining order but will not withdraw the complaint until a written agreement is finalized. Until then, the lawsuit is still active. We are pleased at the ethic’s panels’s decision and look forward to full resolution in writing so that Baby Gabriel’s life will no longer be in danger."
Knoxville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A Tennessee hospital is facing a possible emergency injunction after Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed legal papers today to save the life of nine-month-old Gabriel Palmer. East Tennessee Childrens Hospital says it may abandon his medical care, resulting in the child’s death.
Baby Gabriel was born prematurely with a genetic abnormality, club foot, and narrow airway, but he flourished when he went home from the hospital in June.
There, he grew, played, and received physical therapy while going to regular doctor visits. He was fed through a tube and received some oxygen and medications.
On an October weekend, when the babys regular doctors were unavailable, Catherine Palmer took her son to the ETCH emergency room because of breathing problems. After interventions by the medical staff, the baby went into shock, developed pulmonary vascular disease, and was placed on a respirator.
ETCH recently began giving up on Baby Gabriels care, and on Nov. 13, the head of ETCHs PICU, Dr. Kevin Brinkman, told Palmer that the hospital was going to stop feeding him milk and giving him his medications, as well as disconnect his respirator, because the staff considered his care futile.
Brinkman said a formal ethics panel meeting today would determine whether to stop treating Baby Gabriel, but he noted that the decision was already a foregone conclusion.
Ethics panel members have already said they will decide to cease the babys care despite his mothers objections. ETCHs policies declare that treatment can be withdrawn over the familys objections as soon as the ethics panel makes its decision.
After doctors decided that Baby Gabriel was not worth treating, ETCH started discriminating against him by denying his basic care. Staff stopped bathing him, ceased applying cream to alleviate his chapped skin, reduced his diaper changes, and have not allowed his physical therapy.
ETCH doctors have also discouraged Palmers attempts to have her son transferred to other medical facilities where he could receive treatment.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed an emergency motion in court this afternoon to save Gabriel’s life.
A disability should not be a death sentence. No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is not worth saving, ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman told LifeNews.com.
Doctors at East Tennessee Childrens Hospital need to do the right thing and make sure Baby Gabriel gets the treatment he needs to live. He is loved by his mother, is in stable condition, and could live for a long time. The hospitals treatment–or lack thereof–of this helpless little boy is simply inhuman," he said.
Bowman indicated the hospital did not change course after a letter sent Friday by an ADF-cooperating attorney on behalf of Catherine Palmer which urged hospital officials to continue his medical treatment.
Hospital staff told Catherine Palmer that they will no longer provide medical care for her baby despite her objections.
Although the baby is on a respirator and medications to treat pulmonary vascular problems, he is stable and a doctor says he could live for a long time.
An ETCH doctor determined he could live a long while.
ADF indicates Gabriel is alert, active, and responsive when not sedated. In recent days while awake, he spent time kicking his feet, tried to play with his stuffed animals, listened to his mother and grandmother, and responded to his favorite music.
ADF filed the motion for restraining order and injunction in Palmer v. East Tennessee Childrens Hospital Association with the Chancery Court for Knox County, which has set a hearing before Chancellor Darrel Fansler for later this afternoon.
ADF-allied attorney John Threadgill of Knoxville is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit.
ACTION: Email the hospital at [email protected]
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.