Recently, an article Filing Suit for ‘Wrongful Life’ – The New York Times (nytimes.com), discussed the case of a patient in New York who received medical interventions that kept him alive, contrary to his wishes. He suffered as a result. Following his death, his estate initiated a lawsuit for damages, which is now pending.
Increasingly, attention is appropriately being paid to cases involving patients who suffer when kept alive by life sustaining measures that occurred without their consent and against their wishes, such as CPR. Unfortunately, patients are also harmed in the converse way. Patients, especially women and people of color, too frequently receive inadequate pain management and denied care they have a right to receive.
At End of Life Choices New York, we continue to advocate for a patient’s right to care in alignment with their wishes. We have initiated legislation (A. 250), to ensure that patients or their families have the clear right to recover damages in appropriate cases and not have to pay for unwanted medical treatment. We have also initiated another bill (A. 210) which requires that nursing homes and hospitals give a patient/family notice before admission (unless it is an emergency) if they have a policy that may override patient wishes. Some nursing homes and hospitals have policies that are based on religious or moral beliefs that prevent them from offering or withholding certain treatments. Right now, these institutions only have to provide this information by the time of admission, at which time it may be too difficult or impossible for a patient or family to move out. By ensuring this information is given before a patient moves in, it enables the patient and their families to make an informed choice about which institution is right for them. We are excited to announce that this bill was recently approved by the Assembly Health Committee to move forward for consideration.
We will be sure to share any new information about these two bills with you. While we continue to work hard to ensure your wishes are honored, we encourage you to complete the NYS Health Care Proxy Form if you have not done so already. By appointing someone you trust as your health care agent, who knows your wishes, this person can speak for you if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. If you need help completing this form, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can email us ay firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-726-2010.