April 23, 2024

Wife’s guardian status revoked

Ruling finds Minnesota woman sincere but “deceiving” as to husband’s wishes

In an interesting twist on the issue of end-of-life wishes, a Minnesota judge has stripped medical decision-making authority from the wife of 85-year-old Al Barnes, calling her “deceiving” and rebutting her claims that his severe dementia and other conditions are reversible. While the ruling noted that Lana Barnes is “adamant and sincere” in believing in her husband’s ability to recover, the ruling found no evidence to support her claim that he suffers from a reversible form of Lyme disease.

“He is dying, slowly and painfully,” the ruling stated. “The evidence before the court establishes that no amount of medical care and treatment is going to change that.” Alternate Decision Makers, a Minneapolis firm, will remain as Barnes’ emergency guardian, at least until a March 3 hearing, when a permanent guardian will be named. Lana Barnes appeared to have little chance to remain guardian – and might have exposed herself to criminal or civil litigation – after she admitted at a court hearing last week that she altered a legal document governing her husband’s care.

When her husband was admitted to Methodist Hospital on Dec. 25, Lana Barnes produced only one page of a three-page health care declaration naming her as decision-maker for her husband’s medical care. The missing two pages of the 1993 document contradicted her claim that her husband wanted aggressive, life-sustaining care. Last week’s hearing also revealed the existence of a 1994 health care directive that superseded the 1993 document and named Barnes’ eldest son, James, as decision-maker.

The hearing was held to consider a petition filed by Methodist to take authority away from Lana Barnes, who had requested dialysis for her husband’s failing kidneys and antibiotics for his infections. The doctors declined on the basis that his dementia was too severe and that it would be unethical to provide such treatment to a fragile patient. “One can see why Mrs. Barnes did what she did: She deeply loves her husband and desperately does not want him to leave,” the ruling stated. “Unfortunately, desperation breeds dishonesty. Though Mrs Barnes’ purpose in deceiving the court may have seemed noble to her, it is not acceptable to the court.” ~ Star Tribune, Feb 2; Feb 4          

Wife’s guardian status revoked
Jared Yee
end of life