Genea Bristol is a 41-year-old nurse who worked closely with COVID-19 patients and is now hospitalized after contracting the virus. Doctors say the condition of her lungs is not repairable, and they want to withdraw her life-extending-treatment. Her mother is fighting against it, so the administrators of Lawnwood Regional Medical Center have sued to have a court order to terminate treatment.
"We see this all over the country," laments Alexandra Snyder of the Life Legal Defense Foundation. "This is what is called the Futile Care Doctrine, where in virtually every state doctors have basically a statutory protection where they do not have to provide care that they don't believe is going to
be -- quote, unquote -- 'beneficial.'"
In many cases, the doctors can make that decision against the wishes of the patient or the patient's legally-appointed caregiver.
"There's some patients, they decide that they're too old … or they're disabled," Snyder explains. "This happens a lot if the patients are disabled; they no longer have the -- quote, unquote -- 'requisite quality of life' for such care going forward."
The attorney adds that many patients or their guardians want medical treatment to continue, so state legislators need to get to work to established rules or legislation to keep doctors from ending their patients' lives unnecessarily, usually by starvation and lack of fluids.
In Bristol's case, the judge has so far sided with the family, requiring the hospital to reframe its pleadings.