Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Article on End-of-Life Care in Connecticut

HealthErin A. O’Neill, recently published an article entitled, End-of-life care in Connecticut: whose decision is it and when does the conversation begin?, 27 Quinnipiac Prob. L.J. 317-343 (2014). Provided below is an excerpt from the article:

A 49-year-old woman has been suffering from multiple sclerosis for more than twenty years. Her condition continues to worsen. She can no longer sit up, swallow, or speak well enough to be understood by others. One year ago, she developed respiratory arrest, became cyanotic, and was hospitalized. She was given a tracheostomy and put on a respirator. To this day, the body's secretions that collect in the tube must be suctioned from the tube every couple of hours, requiring the removal of her respirator, which prevents her from breathing. She is semi-comatose, and only her brain stem, which controls her heartbeat, body temperature, and some reflexive actions, functions. She cannot see and it is believed that she cannot hear. After two months of treatment, she has shown no sign of improvement. At best, she can be described as awake but unaware. The prognosis for improvement is hopeless, but she is still kept on the respirator. 1

This woman has no living will or other advance directive; therefore, her father has been appointed as her conservator 2 by the probate court. Her father is faced with the difficult decision of whether to sustain his daughter's life in such a hopeless state, or remove the respirator and let her pass. He decides to ask the hospital to remove the respirator. 3 The hospital refuses to honor the request without a court order, and the matter is brought to the probate court. 4


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