Another weakness in Texas’s futile care law has emerged in the case of a woman who suffered brain damage after her breathing tube became disconnected in hospital. Texas hospitals may remove life support from patients when further care is deemed “medically futile”. In this case, however, the hospital’s negligence may have caused 29-year-old Kalilah Roberson-Reese to lapse into a persistent vegetative state. This case raises questions of whether the law might be used to bury mistakes,” says Jerri Ward, a lawyer for the woman.
A newcomer to Texas, Ms Roberson-Reese was pregnant with her first child when she went to the Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston complaining of leg pains, chest pains and shortness of breath. Apparently she was misdiagnosed and doctors later discovered that she had blood clots in her leg. Her child was born by an emergency Caesarean section and died. Her condition worsened to the point where she needed a tracheal tube. This slipped out, depriving her of oxygen, but nurses failed to notice.
The unconscious woman is nearly alone in the world. Her husband deserted her. A number of Texas nursing homes have refused to take her. Her only close relative is her mother, Cynthia Deason, who lives in California and is already caring for sick relatives. The Texas Right to Life organisation is advising Ms Deason.
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