Story of ER Sending Starving Boy Home May be Common Under ObamaCare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Story of ER Sending Starving Boy Home May be Common Under ObamaCare

by Jordan Marie Bauer
June 28, 2010 Note: Jordan Marie Bauer serves as a Legislative Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a statewide pro-life organization.

A recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Lake City ER sends starving disabled boy home with just a note" (June 17, 2010), has caused quite the stir. An investigative report released last week by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) revealed that a disabled, severely malnourished boy from Lake City, Minnesota, was wrongly sent home from a hospital emergency room without any medical assessment or treatment.

After school nurses found open lesions on the Lake City boy’s back, and noted that he could not walk or feed himself and lay on a school cot in the fetal position, the boy’s parents were told by social service and law enforcement officials to take him to an emergency room as soon as possible.

The boy was brought to the Lake City Medical Center; however, due to decisions made that were not in the best interests of the boy’s health, he was sent home and did not receive the medical treatment he so desperately needed.

The next day social service workers had the boy taken to another hospital, where he was "admitted several days due to severe malnutrition, starvation, bedsores and uncontrolled seizures," according to the MDH report.

Minnesotans understandably reacted with shock to the front-page story of a suffering child released from a medical facility without having received any care. How could medical care providers be so heartless and cruel? Regardless of the circumstances of this particular case, it could serve as a frightening picture of what is to come under the new health care law.

The boy’s sad and dangerous experience highlights a very serious threat facing all vulnerable persons — not only the disabled and elderly: the involuntary and intentional denial of medical treatment for those who need it. Obamacare could jeopardize the ability of patients to receive lifesaving medical treatment when it’s needed most; scenarios such as the one described above could become standard procedure under federal health care mandates.

From the beginning, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and our national affiliate, National Right to Life Committee, have been as dedicated to protecting older people and people with disabilities from euthanasia as we have been to protecting the unborn from abortion. We have recognized that the denial of lifesaving medical treatment is a form of involuntary euthanasia, and therefore we have opposed government rationing of health care.

The Lake City case touches on a much broader pro-life concern, exacerbated by Pres. Barack Obama’s recent health care overhaul. Cases similar to this, in which care is intentionally withheld, will only increase as the new law’s mandates are fully implemented. Denial of care is at the heart of the health care overhaul’s mission to control costs.

The new law contains provisions that will result in the large-scale rationing of lifesaving medical treatments. When cost-saving health care decisions are made based on patients’ perceived "quality of life," including age, predicted degree of disability and other subjective criteria, persons with less favorable predicted "outcomes" will be denied medical resources in favor of other patients whose predicted results are more favorable.

Fiscal constraints and a "quality of life" ethic will likely lead to the denial of essential care for the elderly and disabled and other vulnerable people.

The lives of countless patients are threatened. Pro-life advocates must work harder than ever to protect the dignity of all members of the human family, regardless of age, degree of disability or perceived "quality of life."


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