A patient at Houston Methodist Hospital is facing denial of treatment against the expressed wishes of his Medical Power of Attorney and family members. Because the patient is sedated and thus currently lacks decision-making capacity, his mother is acting as his Medical Power of Attorney.
However, Methodist has invoked the statutory process found in the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA-Chapter 166.046 of the Health & Safety Code), which allows the hospital to override medical directives of a patient and provide only ten days’ notice before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. For this helpless patient, the ten-day period was supposed to end on Monday, November 23. Texas Right to Life is serving as the patient advocate and working to secure care at another facility while ministering to the distraught family.
In an effort to extend the ten days, as they desperately seek another facility or physician to continue treatment, the family won a temporary restraining order (TRO) through the Harris County District Court system. Once the hospital reviewed the petition and saw that the family involved attorneys and Texas Right to Life, Houston Methodist Hospital agreed to extend the countdown by an additional fourteen days. While the additional time marks a temporary victory, the patient is still in danger of the hospital withdrawing his healthcare and thereby speeding, if not causing, his death.
Since 2005, Texas Right to Life has lobbied for both incremental and comprehensive overhaul to TADA in the Texas Legislature. TADA represents a terrible deprivation of civil liberties for hospitalized patients since an unelected committee of hospital imperialists can unilaterally decide who lives and who dies within their facility.
This Texas law is the most pervasive law in the nation in regard to the disabled and medically vulnerable and is a black mark on our state’s Pro-Life record. While minor reforms have taken place since the passage of the law in 1999, TADA still authorizes hospitals to jeopardize the lives of patients—conscious or unconscious.
Furthermore, TADA abrogates the constitutional authority of the state, and there is no appeals process for the decision to remove care. The law deprives hospitalized Texans of due process before their death caused by the withdrawal or denial of life-sustaining medical treatment. The only reprieve is a TRO for more time. The hospital committee serves as judge and jury over not only a patient’s care, but also a patient’s Right to Life. As a next step, a lawsuit is being filed to challenge the constitutionality of the Texas Advance Directive Act that has been used to victimize countless ailing and disabled Texans.