Friday, May 15, 2009

Disability Rights Wisconsin files lawsuit regarding alleged withdrawal of treatment for developmentally disabled patients

Disability Rights Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit against University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic regarding their policy, under which it is alleged they withheld treatment for developmentally disabled patients on the basis that there were quality of life issues when they had signs of pneumonia.

Attorney Mitch Hagopian said he worried some UW Hospital doctors may be too quick to suggest withdrawing treatment from a developmentally disabled person they perceive to have a low quality of life.

The case involves the treatment of pneumonia in J.L., a 72 year old developmentally disabled man, where care was allegedly withheld and M.E. , a 13 year old boy, whose parents allegedly wanted care withheld. Neither patient was in a "persistent vegetative state". A prior state legal precedent regarding parents' rights to withhold care from children is flawed , Dr. Steven Leuthner, a bioethicist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, claims.

Leuthner, who is not a lawyer, said the group had reached a plausible interpretation of a 2002 case in which a state appellate court found that parents could not withhold care from children not in a vegetative state. But he faulted the judges in that case, who he said incorrectly interpreted a previous Supreme Court case, making for a troubling precedent. The decision also left parents powerless to act in their children’s best interests, he said.

“That would be my hope of what would come out of this, that (the courts) would recognize the problem in” the previous case, Leuthner said.

A spokesman from Bethesda Lutheran, who treated the 13 year old, administering antiobiotics after doctors at UW refused to give the order, stated that “We believe that the law in Wisconsin is clear that people with developmental disabilities should receive medical care for treatable illnesses unless they are dying or in a persistent vegetative state."

h/t Disability Scoop

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