Saturday, November 15, 2008

Texas Life Support Case

Mr. Spiro Nikolouzos, a retired electrical engineer was admitted to St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital emergency room in Houston, Texas, 10 February 2005. His wife Jannette Nikolouzos was informed by a mere letter "that it would withdraw life-sustaining care of her husband of 34 years in 10 days" unless she found another facility to care for him. He would have been a patient at the hospital for one month's time.

The hospital director or doctor of Spiro didn't even have the common courtesy of calling his wife and informing her of this! I know the letter was for legalities, but somebody should've also called his wife. She was able to have her husband transferred to San Antonio prior to his "expiration" date.

Texas became the first state in 1999 to pass a law establishing an ethics board review of when to disable life support. The bill "gives hospitals the authority to remove patients from life support, but requires they give the family 10 days notice to find another facility." According to Dr. David Pate, St. Luke's chief medical officer, Spiro was unaware of his surroundings, he couldn't eat, he couldn't speak, he couldn't move any of his extremities.

Although I agree with having some sort of time table, I think 30 days is just not enough time. I believe 6 months should be the minimum standard.

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