A group of advocates and state lawmakers have begun mounting a challenge to a provision in Texas end-of-life law allowing withdrawal of treatment from terminal patients under limited circumstances. The Texas Advance Directives Act, as it stands, allows medical professionals to end a dying patient's treatment if they can't be transferred to another facility within 10 days. However, it seldom results in treatment being withdrawn involuntarily, according to one researcher. Dr. Robert Fine, who helped write the advance directives law as a representative for the Texas Medical Association, estimates that of 65 documented cases when families disagreed with a "medical futility" decision, care was withdrawn 27 times.
The rule was originally set up as a compromise between those who favored indefinite treatment and those who oppose "futile" treatment of patients in a vegetative state. Now, a group of influential state legislators, working with National Right to Life, argue that the 10 days allowed by law isn't long enough to let family members find another facility. State Rep. Bryan Hughes and Sen. Bob Deuell have both filed bills to take off the time limit, arguing that imposing a 10-day time window is too restrictive.
To learn more about the end-of-life care issue:
- read this article from the Dallas Morning News