There are some lawsuits I would not file. It would not always be a lack of legal support. Sometimes it would be my personal belief the lawsuit would not be in the best interests of the clients or society.
When I read this article at Amednews.com I added one more case to my DNF (Do Not File) list.
Medical and legal experts say the case raises issues about the standard of care with end-of-life directives.
Physicians cannot always predict when it is time to act on a patient’s advance wishes to forgo life-prolonging care, but a Florida lawsuit may foretell legal woes for doctors who don’t anticipate the situation.
A family there is suing their grandmother’s doctor for allegedly ignoring her directive not to be revived. The physician sent the 92-year-old to the hospital when hospice staff found her unresponsive in October 1995.
Internist Jaimy Bensimon, MD, then medical director at Joseph L. Morse Geriatric Center, was away from the hospice and told staff to call 911, the lawsuit states. Because there was no “do not resuscitate” order in Madeline Neumann’s chart, paramedics performed CPR and intubated her. They took Neumann to a hospital where she was put on life-support for three days. She died four days after being taken off support.
Although these types of lawsuits are not new, the Florida case is believed to be among very few to proceed to trial, as most settle beforehand. A Feb. 9 hearing is scheduled for the judge to set a trial date. Plaintiff’s attorneys said they want to hold doctors accountable for violating dying patients’ rights.
Courts generally have sided with physicians who err on the side of saving lives. The Terri Schiavo case put the national spotlight on right-to-die directives two years ago. Now, legal and medical experts say the Florida lawsuit highlights factors that increasingly could land doctors in court. Advance directives are not always clear on emergency response, and they are not always translated into physicians’ orders, experts say.