Saturday, January 17, 2009

Prime Time TV and Law School

Grey's Anatomy has a plot this week that includes a serial killer with brain tumors who wants to refuse treatment.  The doctors tell him that he can refuse to be operated on while he's conscious,  but once he passes out it only takes the consent of two doctors to overrule the patient's wishes and force treatment.  

Health Care lawyers out there: is this true?  When the patient has stated, with witnesses (and he's sane), that he doesn't want treatment, why would the hospital want to force expensive treatment on him?  Wouldn't that treatment best be saved for somebody who wants it, and somebody who society wants around (a non-serial killer)?

Despite the policy considerations of saving a serial killer, the Hippocratic Oath does command that doctors preserve life.  Do they have to preserve life against the patients' wishes?  Do the patients' wishes not matter anymore after they've passed out?


Anonymous said...

Once the patient is unconscious, they are considered unfit to make medical decisions regarding their own well-being, and in the absence of a legal / medical gaurdian, the doctor's have to act in what they believe to be the best interests of the patient. There are instances where where this does not apply, for example, if the patient has signed a binding do not recessitate waiver, then the doctors could not legally save him. In the Grey's example, however, the surgery did not fall under the parameters of the recessitation waiver, and I'm not sure if the patient had actually signed one in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hey, unrelated topic, but why was the release date for your book pushed back? I wasn't sure if that was true what it said on Amazon about now being released in Sept. of 09 or not when I wwent to order it. Is it still coming out in March?

Sharon said...

The official release date is now Sept. 29,2009. The date was pushed back for several reasons. First, the economy is crap right now, and people are more worried about saving their houses than buying a gift for a friend. Second, Christmas season is the perfect time to market a gift book, and my publisher is shooting for that. Third, several of the stores that ordered the book raised their orders, and we needed more time to print the books.

I'm bummed too, but the date was pushed for good reasons.