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Delaware: Do Not Repeat the Mistakes of Schiavo

Posted Sep 22 2008 5:29am

The House of Representatives in my new state of employment, Delaware, passed a Resolution last week, resolving that "it is against the public policy of this State and this State’s interest in life, health and safety, for hydration and nutrition that is not harming a patient to be involuntarily removed from a non-terminal, apparently brain-incapacitated patient if doing so will cause the individual’s death. "

House Resolution 75 finds that it is

becoming increasingly apparent that the diagnosis of “persistent vegetative state” or “PVS” is a category that recent science shows is far more uncertain and overly broad than had been previously thought, including a high rate of misdiagnoses of PVS patients who have not been able to exhibit responses, but whose consciousness can now sometimes be measured with medical advances such as neuroimaging and drug treatment.
Consequently, consistent with recent amendments to health care decisions acts in other states, the Resolution requires the patient herself either to have directed the removal of ANH or to have appointed an agent who directs the removal.

While the Resolution probably has no legal force, the House specifically mentioned in the Resolution that "[t]he impetus for this Resolution comes from the case of Lauren Richardson, a 24-year-old Delaware woman who, after suffering brain injuries and impaired consciousness, now faces the possible removal of her nutrition and hydration, despite the absence of her clearly specified and legal consent to any such a course of action."

Let's hope that the Delaware Legislature does not attempt to redirect the course or outcome of an already-adjudicated court dispute.
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