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Hospital Forces Woman on Life Support

 
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indiecat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote indiecat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:25pm
They might take the baby out earlier than full term, I am pregnant, so I am emotional for the baby. the husband and family shouldn't have to pay for anything if the hospital is making decisions for them. if the baby survives though, I'm sure the family will want to be part of its life.
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QueenBee View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (9) Thanks(9)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:25pm
Being that both are EMT/paramedics, they are aware of what happens when being brain dead. They are unsure how long the mother was without oxygen before getting medical attention thus affecting the development of the baby.  This means this baby may/can be born with birth defects due to the time it was without receive oxygen.  If the baby is born, then it is now the father's  responsibility to raise a child with possible severe mental disabilities.  
 
eta:   Wasn't this posted before? 


Edited by QueenBee - Jan 10 2014 at 4:27pm
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maysay1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote maysay1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:28pm
I think some people are missing the point.

Keeping the mother on life support results in the death of the baby anyway. She is legally considered a corpse. As such, no doctor will perform any type of medical procedure on her. There will be no natural delivery or c-section...no medical personnel will even touch her.

If the baby makes it to a viable point it will not matter because it cannot deliver itself. It will die in the womb. I don't know what kind of experience that is, but I'm thinking it will be a horrible, torturous death.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Joja1107 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:35pm
Someone may know a little more but many hospitals won't try and save a baby that is less than 23-24 weeks gestation. It was a law ( i think "baby doe law" or something) that said hospitals had to do everything they could to save the baby at that age. Before that it's not required. I'm unsure why they are in this instance especially against the family's wishes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:38pm
Originally posted by maysay1 maysay1 wrote:

I think some people are missing the point.

Keeping the mother on life support results in the death of the baby anyway. She is legally considered a corpse. As such, no doctor will perform any type of medical procedure on her. There will be no natural delivery or c-section...no medical personnel will even touch her.

If the baby makes it to a viable point it will not matter because it cannot deliver itself. It will die in the womb. I don't know what kind of experience that is, but I'm thinking it will be a horrible, torturous death.
 
This is going to be interesting if they do perform a medical procedure on her considering what is happening with the Jahi (little girl brain dead from tonisillectomy).  Maybe it varies by state.
 
eta:  I guess some states do deliver babies from brain dead mothers.


Edited by QueenBee - Jan 10 2014 at 4:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:41pm

A Brain-Dead Mother, a Million-Dollar Baby

Published: Jan 10, 2014

By Sarah Wickline , Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

The case of a pregnant woman in Texas kept on life support against her family's wishes has captured the nation's attention as ethical debates swirl, but there is another compelling aspect to this story: The fetus she is carrying may be the first real million-dollar baby.

Marlise Munoz, 33, has been on life support at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, since late November, when she was declared brain dead following oxygen deprivation related to a possible blood clot in her lungs. The patient's medical details have not been released.

At the time of her legal death, she was 14 weeks pregnant. Her advanced directive, and the wishes of her husband and family, call for removal from life support. However, Texas law prohibits removing life support from pregnant women.

So what will this extended hospital stay cost?

Medical ventilation can run $1,500 per day, according to a 2005 study, and long-term ICU can run about $5,000 per day. But Munoz's unique situation could mean even higher costs, said Adam C. Powell, PhD, a healthcare economist at Payer+Provider in Boston.

At $5,000 per day, Munoz's hospital bills would be $350,000 after 70 days, or 24 weeks into her pregnancy, when the baby would have about a 50% chance of survival. By the time she reaches 112 days, at which point she would be 30 weeks pregnant, the bill would be $560,000, and the baby would have more than a 92% chance of survival.

Then there's the cost of a C-section, roughly $4,500 for physicians' fees alone, according to the Healthcare Blue Book.

Once the child is born, Brian S. Carter, MD, a neonatologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., told MedPage Today that the neonate could spend anywhere between 2 to 4 months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), depending upon how many weeks he or she is premature.

NICU costs generally run more than $3,500 per day. After 2 months, the NICU bill would be roughly $210,000, and by 4 months, it could reach $420,000. Carter suggested the baby would spend roughly 2 months in the NICU if the birth occurred at 28 weeks, but it would look more like 4 months if the birth was closer to 24 weeks.

That means a grand hospital bill total of anywhere from $439,500 to $984,500.

Powell suggested that the cost the family will have to shoulder will depend on their coverage. "In the worst case scenario, the family gets hit with the maximum out-of-pocket," he said. It's unclear how much that would be, but it's very unlikely they would face more than a fraction of the total cost. Insurance coverage for a woman that has been declared brain dead is a gray area, Powell said.

Munoz was a paramedic and her husband is a firefighter. The fact that Munoz worked -- presumably for more than 18 months -- means the child will be eligible for Social Security death benefits until the age of 18. Her salary is unknown, but if it were $45,000 per year, the combination of payments to her husband and their child would be about $3,000 per month. That's $36,000 per year for 18 years or a total of $648,000.

Taken together, even a conservative estimate of the costs exceeds $1 million, and could be more than $1.6 million.

The Clinical Outlook

Keeping the mother's body stable and avoiding life-support-related infections throughout the pregnancy will be the key to a good fetal outcome, say clinicians, but there is considerable risk for brain damage from the initial injury.

R. Phillips Heine, MD, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Duke Medical Center, told MedPage Today that as long as providers are able to keep Munoz stable (e.g., no further blood clots or bed sores, quality perfusion and oxygen levels), "the risk of continuing therapy is probably pretty minimal to the infant."

Mona Prasad, DO, MPH, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, speculated that the course of delivery would most likely involve a C-section, and that the timing of delivery would depend on how well the intrauterine environment could be controlled.

Prasad believes that the greatest risk to a mother on life-support would be infection. "The most quantifiable risk is that associated with a ventilator -- pneumonia in the mother. A mother on life support will also likely have a lot of lines and tubes that will increase the risk of infection and put the baby at risk."

Prasad noted that if the providers were to determine that the NICU environment could provide more stability than the womb, a pre-term birth might be the best course of action.

Carter told MedPage Today that the medications given to Munoz in the emergency department to resuscitate her would also have benefited the fetus. But, that the impact of the maternal incident itself is what poses the greatest risk.

"As we consider the impact of maternal illness, or an arrest, or episode of significant shock at 14 weeks, it's the fact that the fetus in utero also suffered the same phenomenon," Carter said.

Carter said the infant is at high risk of cerebral palsy.

Heine agreed. "The real issue has to do with the event that caused her to go on life support. That damage is really hard to predict. We think that 80% to 90% of all cases of cerebral palsy are due to in utero events."

"About 20% of cardiac output goes to the utero-placental unit and serves the fetus, so a maternal event such as has been described for this woman can't help but impact the fetal development in a negative fashion, and I would be very concerned about the impact that it has specifically on fetal brain development," Carter said.

The Ethical Debate

Several ethicists question the humanity of keeping a brain dead woman on life support against the family's wishes; however, others believe that protecting what is technically a viable fetus is the humane course.

George Annas, JD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health, told MedPage Today, "The law cannot answer this case with a blunt always/never rule. Patient autonomy and medical ethics should guide such tragic and inherently difficult decisions."

Professor William M. Sage, MD, JD, Vice Provost of Health Affairs at the University of Texas School of Law, told MedPage Today he also questioned the intention and application of the law in this case. "The hospital claims it is complying with Texas law."

"I doubt the law applies to a deceased woman who was pregnant at the time of her death," Sage said.

"As an ethical matter, this case is unusual because the family seems to be asserting that the mother would not have wanted care to be given to the fetus after her death, but the hospital refuses to honor that choice," Sage continued.

Annas agreed, "Extraordinary means to preserve the life of a nonviable fetus against the wishes of the family should probably never be used, at least not longer than a few days, and then only if a healthy infant is the probable result."

"The issue is much more difficult when the pregnant woman is dead, because the dead have no constitutional rights and no claim to liberty or autonomy. They do, however, have a "right" to have their dead bodies treated with respect, and this, I think, should limit the time that physicians can use their dead body against their likely wishes," Annas said.

"There is a pretty robust legal and ethical consensus around the right of a patient, or their representative, to refuse medical care," Alan Regenberg, MBe, of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, told MedPage Today.

"The law is intended to protect the uncertain interests of a fetus. These interests can only be protected in cases such as this by violating the patient's rights. The law itself is ethically problematic -- it puts hospitals into the unfortunate position of having to choose between violating this law or violating their patients' rights," Regenberg said.

According to Tia Powell, MD, director of Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics, the providers are misinterpreting the law altogether, she told MedPage Today. "No law requires any medical treatment for a dead person. If, as is alleged, the hospital knows this person meets criteria for brain death and they have failed to document this in the chart, then, yes, I believe they have behaved unethically."

"A judge should intervene to require an examination of the patient to determine whether or not she meets criteria for brain death," Powell recommended.

Even if Munoz had an iron-clad advanced directive prior to her health incident, she did not have one updated after knowledge of her pregnancy, rendering the directive unusable under the circumstances, said Texas Medical Association spokesperson Robert Tenery, MD.

"The fetus was deemed viable at the time of admission," Tenery, former chair of the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, told MedPage Today. As there is no way to know about brain damage at that stage, viability was determined via heartbeat, which was strong enough to thwart decisions to remove life support.

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maysay1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote maysay1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:42pm
Originally posted by QueenBee QueenBee wrote:

Originally posted by maysay1 maysay1 wrote:

I think some people are missing the point.

Keeping the mother on life support results in the death of the baby anyway. She is legally considered a corpse. As such, no doctor will perform any type of medical procedure on her. There will be no natural delivery or c-section...no medical personnel will even touch her.

If the baby makes it to a viable point it will not matter because it cannot deliver itself. It will die in the womb. I don't know what kind of experience that is, but I'm thinking it will be a horrible, torturous death.
 
This is going to be interesting if they do perform a medical procedure on her considering what is happening with the Jahi (little girl brain dead from tonisillectomy). 


I don't know any doctor that would. My brother and his wife are doctors and he said he'd be crazy to do something like that. Aside from ethically being against it, you could never practice medicine again. That woman's husband would sue for all he had and he would never be able to get malpractice insurance again.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote keepgrowing Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:49pm
So I just saw the law that they must keep a pregnant woman on life support, but she is brain dead....Man I know the hospital is going through some major stress right about now. This is a difficult case. 


Edited by keepgrowing - Jan 10 2014 at 4:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote keepgrowing Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 4:59pm
This case is difficult. The fetus has a slim chance of surviving. Technically, this should not have been ok, but it happened in Texas which is the only reason it was ok. According to medical ethics, the fetus is a function of the mother until viable at 24 weeks so this shouldn't have been ok. If the family wanted life support from the poor woman to be removed, it should have been removed. But they evoked another law, who knows how old that law is, to make this slide. They are prolonging the inevitable and wasting medical resources while doing so. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (14) Thanks(14)   Quote Senior Detective Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2014 at 5:01pm
pro-lifers are crazy as hell
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