Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Bit of Cynical Speculation

In response to my posting about the Terri Schiavo story, the following comes in from Michael Pugh, one-time hospital CEO and now a highly regarded consultant:


“I was very disturbed by the Schiavo drama, as I am sure most others that read your blog were. What disturbed me most was not which side was right or wrong, or even the stupid posturing, misuse of facts and political interventions, but how the whole thing got to where it ended. I remember as a hospital CEO being involved in numerous tragic events in the 80’s where the players in the tragedy (the patient, doctors and family members) were at odds or unsure how to proceed, with very unclear or even contradictory legal advice thrown in for good measure. It was those types of cases that we as hospital leaders lost sleep over that eventually led to end-of-life care laws and the ethics guidelines that now exist in every state. My fear is that the politics surrounding this one media event case will undo much of what has been accomplished and disrupt an environment in which doctors and family members in the vast majority of cases come to an ethical and defendable decision, whatever it may be.

The malpractice angle to this drama leads one to other musings. I never read or heard this in the media coverage, but I can speculate that during the early years of the tragedy and before the malpractice claim was settled, the lawyers for the family encouraged measures to keep her alive because the financial settlement for long term incapacitation would likely be much greater than for a wrongful death suit. Perhaps just a bit of cynical speculation…”

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