NPR’s Joseph P. Shapiro has uncovered another alarming story: Michael Hickson, 46, was admitted to the hospital last June with COVID-19. He was initially placed on a ventilator, but doctors later withheld further treatment and transferred him to a hospice program. He died several days later.
When Mr. Hickson’s wife heard that the hospital had decided to stop his treatment, she located one of the doctors and asked why. During their conversation (which she recorded) the doctor said that the decision was based largely on the fact that her husband was a quadriplegic and had other disabilities. Therefore, the doctor said, his expected quality of life was not as good as those of other patients who were “walking and talking.” The recording is available in Mr. Shapiro’s article below.
No wife should have to listen to a doctor tell her that the hospital has decided to stop treating her husband because he already has “poor quality of life.” Who is the doctor to be making those kinds of value judgments? But in fairness, doctors should not be put in the position of having to make such unthinkable value judgments about life and death, in the middle of this nonstop horror.
A discrimination complaint has been filed, and we will eventually find out more about this very tragic story. But I believe that if there is a “guilty” party here it is the federal government, which doesn’t seem to be doing much more than waiting around for this virus to go away “like a miracle.”
For more about Joseph P. Shapiro, go to https://www.npr.org/people/2101159/joseph-shapiro
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