OPPOSE SB303 – The Death Panel Bill

SB 303 pretends to create a right of a second opinion for a patient, but only if the patient is aware of the denial-of-care directive and only if the patient requests a second opinion in time before care is denied with a result of death.  This bill does not establish a right to a second independent opinion; the second opinion under this bill will typically be to another hospital employee controlled by hospital policy.  medical image

The following reasons to oppose SB 303 were drafted by Andrew Schlafly, J.D., General Counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

1.  Grant hospitals the power to impose denial-of-care directives, such as “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation” (DNAR), against patients without their consent and without even giving them written notice.  This bill shifts the burden to the patient or family member to find out if the hospital plans to deny care, and a verbal objection by the patient or family member is not sufficient.  The patient or family member must object in writing, and even then a hospital death panel can reject the objection and impose DNAR.

2.  Grant hospitals the power to withhold medical records from patients for five (5) days as time-sensitive life-and-death decisions are being made. If the move to withdraw and deny care is in process, the patients and families should be given all records and information so as to begin to look for a transfer so as to be ahead of the draconian countdown of the clock.

3.  Grant hospitals the right to deny the ability of independent patient advocates to speak on behalf of a patient and defend the patient’s interests, and instead limits patients to hospital-chosen patient advocates. SB 303 (HB 1444) limits the number of patient advocates and family members who can attend the death panel meeting to 5 while the hospital can stack the meeting with as many as they need to suit their agenda.

4.  Grant hospitals the power to create their own death panels, stacked with their own employees, to make “ethics” decisions to deny care to patients. The “ethics committee” is not subject to any review process or regulation or recording, and most facilities do not impose any self-governance on such committees.

5.  Grant hospitals the power to transform physicians from being advocates of patient care into becoming adversaries of patients in implementing denial-of-care decisions based on hospital financially based policies. Physicians who desire to care for their patients in the most compassionate manner are forced by their employer to become collaborators in the hospital’s financial profits versus the patient’s care and recovery.

6.  Limit patient options to a request for transfer of the patient to another hospital, at the patient’s own expense and without any guarantee that the other hospital would not also use this law against the patient.  This ignores that tax-exempt hospitals have a duty to act in the best interests of patients rather than the self-enrichment of multi-million-dollar compensated hospital administrators.

7.  Grant hospitals and their employees’ complete immunity from legal accountability for denying care under most circumstances.
SB 303 pretends to create a right of a second opinion for a patient, but only if the patient is aware of the denial-of-care directive and only if the patient requests a second opinion in time before care is denied with a result of death.  This bill does not establish a right to a second independent opinion; the second opinion under this bill will typically be to another hospital employee controlled by hospital policy.

SB 303 pretends to add safeguards, but the safeguards serve the interests of the hospitals, not the interests of the helpless patients whose care has been entrusted to them.

Please communicate this information to the Representatives on the Public Health Committee and encourage them to oppose SB 303 the Death Panel Bill.

Public Health Committee Members:
Chair, Lois Kolkhorst 512-463-0600 lois.kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us

Representative Sarah Davis 512-463-0389 sarah.davis@house.state.tx.us

Representative Susan King 512-463-0718 susan.king@house.state.tx.us

Representative Jodie Laubenberg 512-463-0186 jodie.laubenberg@house.state.tx.us

Representative Bill Zedler 512-463-0374 Bill.Zedler@house.state.tx.us

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