Doctors Could Ignore Patients' Wishes And Refuse CPR Under Proposed
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 1, 2006
CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA--Disability rights advocates in West Virginia are battling a legislative measure that would allow doctors to refuse to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation if they do not think it would do a patient any good -- even if the patient has advanced directives, living wills and durable powers of attorney requesting CPR to stay alive.
House Bill 4022 and its companion Senate Bill 161 would define "medically ineffective" CPR as that which would "to a reasonable degree of medical certainty" be considered unsuccessful in restoring pulmonary function or would only restore it for a few hours, even if CPR were repeated. A doctor would need only to consult with one other physician.
The measure would not apply to other life-saving measures, including feeding tubes, and is designed primarily to protect doctors from liability.
"It is taking the rights away from people with disabilities to do advanced directives," David Stewart, chairperson of the Fair Shake Network, told the Associated Press.
"Where does it go from there?" he asked. "What's the point of having these things?"
Stewart said West Virginians with disabilities oppose the bill because health care providers might believe that they have "suffered enough".
A similar measure, that would have covered CPR, dialysis and mechanical ventilation, died in the House last year.
"Bill lets doctors refuse CPR for some patients"
Text of House Bill 4022 (West Virginia Legislature)
Fair Shake Network