An Unfolding Texas Case Illustrates the Need for an Enforceable Directive that Addresses Your Full Concerns
Relatively few people wish to be kept alive in the event their brain loses its ability to facilitate thought, communication and involuntary and voluntary functions. When asked in casual conversation or in an attorney’s office about being kept alive via life support, most people respond promptly with “I’d want them to cut off support. I wouldn’t want to live that way”.
Unfortunately, most people don’t put this common sentiment in writing and, when they do, it’s not enough to cover more subtle questions such as:
- Is feeding via a tube “life support”?
- How is “brain dead”defined?
- What specific steps should be taken (or avoided) prior to making an end-of-life decision?
- Who has the legal authority to enforce your decisions and interpret healthcare options in the event you are unable to do so?
A recent case unfolding near Forth Worth further illustrates the challenges and concerns that can arise following severe brain injuries or brain death. In late 2013, a husband found his pregnant wife unconscious in their home. Both spouses were paramedics and were familiar with severe injuries and brain death. Both, therefore, had stated clearly that in such an event, they “did not want to be on life support”. However, though the clinical director of the office of clinical ethics and palliative care for health care system caring for the injured person stated that “Under Texas law, this patient is legally dead,”she remains alive and on life support at the direction of her hospital due to concerns regarding her pregnancy.
In a similar but somewhat reversed case (this time in California), a family is fighting to keep a brain-dead individual on life support. The hospital claims that the diagnosis of brain death ends its obligation to provide further care.
Life is complicated. So is the end-of-life process. A detailed and thoughtful advance directive can provide guidance and needed and comforting assistance to surviving loved ones when severe brain injuries occur. To ensure that your wishes are fully understood in the event of a severe and debilitating injury, and to assist your family, obtain qualified legal assistance by contacting the San Antonio Estate Planning Attorneys of Cramp Law Firm, PLLC, at 210-832-8064.