Louisville hospital merger could thwart some patients’ final wishes

More concerns are being raised about the merger that would put a Catholic hospital group in charge of the University of Louisville‘s hospital. First, it was the prospect that women getting Caesarean sections would not be able to get their tubes tied at the same time. Now, “A growing chorus of protest from local residents, doctors and others has erupted over the fact that Catholic doctrine could override patients’ end-of-life wishes,” Laura Ungar and Patrick Howington report for The Courier-Journal.
“While many wealthier patients could simply choose a different hospital, indigent patients have little choice but University Hospital for treatment, including end-of-life care,” the reporters note. “That has left some worried about how end-of-life decisions will be affected if living wills and decisions to remove a feeding tube, for example, will not be honored if they are ‘contrary to Catholic teaching’.”
Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives told the newspaper that advance directives such as living wills would be honored “in the vast majority of cases” but “There may be the rare situation, such as a patient in a persistent vegetative state who is not in the dying process, when what the patient is requesting through his or her advance directive is not consistent with the moral teaching of the Church. In those few cases, a Catholic health care facility would not be able to comply, and with the family’s guidance, the patient would be transferred to another facility, or to their home under hospice and family care.” (Read more)
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