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Old 05-05-2011, 02:04 PM
 
11,750 posts, read 16,483,058 times
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I was co-health care power of attorney for a relative.
The document said that we would act together, discuss the matter and make the decision together.
However, only the family doctor, and the two of us had copies.
Not the hospital.
The relative was to be released to go home on a Friday. It was a Tuesday afternoon and the doctor told me about the release. I had been at the hospital for 6 hours, so the doctor's words sounded like good news.
I went home, tried to get some rest and turned my cell phone off around 8pm.
Something went wrong about 10pm.
At 1-2am, the other co-health care power of attorney tried to call me.
They made the decision to have the hospital staff unplug the breathing machine and the person died around 2am.

1. What is the statute of limitations on liability claims against the hospital or the co-health care power of attorney, who only had the document in hand and read it, prior to making the decision, by phone.
2. It was done without my knowledge or permission. My VERY good idea was for the patient to be kept on the breathing machine, until 7-8am, we all meet at the hospital at that time, and find out if the sedated patient had normal sight, hearing, brain function. If the answer was YES, then the patient could have made the important decision to go home and live the rest of their life on that machine. Or decide to do what the health care power of attorney form said, ask the doctor to sedate them and then pull the plug. This would have given the patient the options as well as everyone could say good bye.

I have been bothered by this, since that date.
I think the co-health care power of attorney violated the terms of the document by making the decision themselves.
It does not say one OR the other can make the decision.
It says one AND the other, shall make the decision.
I'll bet my life that Medicare would not have stopped coverage if the pulling of the plug had occurred 5-6 hours later, so both parties could meet and talk to doctors and make the decision.
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:27 PM
 
6,332 posts, read 14,153,337 times
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You state the hospital didn't have a copy of the document, so either the other person and/or doctor, hospital made the decision. Without the document, which you should have provided to the hospital, they were totally unaware. Usually a hospital will request legal medical power of attorney, living will, etc. when the patient is admitted.
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:36 PM
 
11,750 posts, read 16,483,058 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellwood View Post
You state the hospital didn't have a copy of the document, so either the other person and/or doctor, hospital made the decision. Without the document, which you should have provided to the hospital, they were totally unaware. Usually a hospital will request legal medical power of attorney, living will, etc. when the patient is admitted.
The hospital was given the deceased's wishes over the phone.

After
the co-health care power of attorney, interpreted the directions in the document, before calling the hospital, and giving the instructions.
The hospital could not act alone.

And the document clearly states the two powers of attorney had to agree.
It did not say John Doe OR Jane Jones, it said John Doe AND Jane Jones.

Someone may be guilty of pulling the plug on someone who had ZERO brain damage.
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Old 05-05-2011, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Northern panhandle WV
3,007 posts, read 2,495,983 times
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I'm afraid that giving the wishes over the phone means nothing at all. The hospital should have been provided with a copy of the document. It also depends a great deal on the state you are in etc. Some living wills or health care proxies are not binding legal documents.

My suggestion is you let it go and move on, I am sorry you lost someone close to you.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Florida
5,334 posts, read 4,782,824 times
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It sounds like you feel the person should have been keep alive until you could be at the hospital. The real quesiton is what would have the decision been at that time. Sounds like it would have been the same. Thus I would not worry about it.
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:47 PM
 
11,750 posts, read 16,483,058 times
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My wishes, would have been:
The sibling get off their lazy rear end and make the 4 hour drive so that the two health care powers of attorney could have met at the hospital at maybe 7am.
That would have required, NOTHING, but to tell the hospital to leave the patient on the breathing machine, so that the relatives could have the patient tested for normal brain activity.
So, 2am to 7am.

So, no, the two health care agents did not agree.
And the document does not say either OR, it says AND.

If the patient had normal brain activity they could have been brought out of sedation, and the patient could have decided whether they wanted to live the rest of their life on a machine.
If not, everyone could say good-bye, and the doctor sedate the patient, and THEN pull the plug.

The agent who made the decision made a serious error, based on ?????

I spoke to 2 lawyers. In my state the statute of limitations is 3 years. The death was just under 2 years ago. However, the death occurred in the nearby state and their 2 year statute of limitations would apply.

Let me be clear, these two persons were not close, so this matter has not ruined anything.

Back to the legal, I was told it would take a jury to decide the case if one agent were to sue the other, personally. And the damages compared to the legal costs, by the hour, could be a wash.

The lawyer said NO ONE should have two health care agents. Have ONE, and an alternate, in case the first one should pass away. The fact that the first one might be out of touch for a few hours or days, would not justify the alternate making the decisions.
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:18 PM
 
Location: it depends
6,073 posts, read 5,672,477 times
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Default Here's the other thing...

I have seen cases in which there was a living will provided to the hospital and a valid health care power of attorney provided to the hospital, and the patient had explicit discussions with family members a few short days before, yet extraordinary measures contrary to the patient's wishes were inflicted (ultimately to no avail.)

The doctors seem to be able to find some reason why the current circumstances are different than what the patient was contemplating, and lobby other family members to find someone to agree that the ventilator should be used (or whatever intervention). The pressure on the holder of the health care power is too much, so the cash register rings for a another painful day or two and the end result, results in an end anyway.

I think people should be able, at some point, to change their Medicare or health insurance so it just would not pay for treatment that the patient does not want. That would bring the problem to a screeching halt.

Any health care providers have any more insight on this?
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:34 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,381 posts, read 69,833,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcopolo View Post
I think people should be able, at some point, to change their Medicare or health insurance so it just would not pay for treatment that the patient does not want. That would bring the problem to a screeching halt.
That sounds like self-rationing.

OP: I was one of three with my parents...
bottom line though is that whatever might or could have been different?
isn't going to be happening now either.

It's time to move on.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:07 PM
 
48,508 posts, read 88,633,133 times
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Basically the hospital is clear and its a issue between the two parties. Like it will be recognised that i fact newither suffered any actaul damages andf that the second was not avilable when it was tried to contact them. Like anyone wantig civil action will have to fund the case entriely because of hard to prove danges to them.Move on.
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Northern panhandle WV
3,007 posts, read 2,495,983 times
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To the OP, what do you hope to accomplish? the person is dead they are going to remain dead. If as you say they had taken away sedation and the patient woke up, then whatever they said about not being kept alive would be null and void, no doctor would re sedate them and pull the plug.

Seems like you are always going to blame this other person no matter what anyway, and there is no resolution to this, like I said you can't sue for damages since the damage was to the person who died if anyone. There is nothing to sue for. and if the two of you had equal standing albeit that you were suppose to agree with each other on a decision, what would have made your decision any more RIGHT than the other guy's?

You need to move on. I was my fathers health care proxy and after being called to the nursing home and told my father had hours to live, I made the decision, with medical advice, and hospice advise, for them stop feeding my father and keep him sedated. I then got to sit by his bedside for 8 LONG days while he starved to death. So don't tell me I don't understand that you are upset, it still haunts me. But my father for some time previous while he was lucid had made it clear he wanted to go. So I went with what his wishes had been.
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