In a case that could have nationwide implications, Trinitas Regional Medical Center here wants an appeals court to decide whether hospitals can refuse to continue life support over the objections of a patient’s family.
-- From "N.J. court to rule whether hospitals may refuse life support despite wishes of families, patients" by Sue Epstein, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey) 4/28/10
The hospital argued it should also be able to decide, in certain cases, whether to end life support even if patients have written directives stipulating they want life-sustaining efforts to continue.
"The hospital is not looking for the courts to overturn the advanced directives law, but to carve out an exception," said Kathleen Boozang, a professor of law at Seton Hall University School of Law. "I’d say the hospital is looking for a narrow decision that (when) doctors believe the care given is grossly inhumane and medically inappropriate, the hospital has the right to terminate treatment."
Indeed, Gary Riveles, the attorney representing Trinitas, said hospital physicians "have to have the right to say enough is enough. The patient or patient’s surrogate should not have the unfettered right to maintain life when there is no chance left."
In a New Brunswick courtroom today, attorneys for the family at the center of the Trinitas appeal, along with advocates for the disabled and others who filed as friends of the court, asked the appellate judges to allow the final decision on life support to remain with patients and their families.
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