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Committee Drops Measure Allowing Doctors To Ignore Patients' Wishes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 9, 2006

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA--A controversial bill that would allow doctors to refuse to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) -- while ignoring advanced directives, living wills and durable powers of attorney -- has been blocked by a committee in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

The House Rules Committee, which is made up of major committee chairs and leadership from both parties, voted not to put House Bill 4022 on the calendar of bills lawmakers are to consider, the Charleston Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The bill and its companion Senate Bill 161 would allow doctors to refuse to perform "medically ineffective" CPR, defined 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. Before refusing to perform CPR, 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.

Some committee members said doctors are telling them they are being forced, in a handful of cases, to do more harm than good with CPR at the end of patients' lives. Others voiced concerns over allowing doctors to override the wishes of patients and their families.

Disability rights advocates from West Virginia's Fair Shake Network opposed the bill over concerns that health care providers might believe that they have "suffered enough" because of their disabilities and that they would be "better off dead".

Text of House Bill 4022 (West Virginia Legislature)
Fair Shake Network


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