Saturday, February 12, 2011
Last week, Lana Barnes was removed from guardianship of her 85 year old husband, Al Barnes, by a court in Minnesota. The case stemmed from a disagreement over treatment for Al Barnes between his wife and the hospital where he was being kept alive on life-support. Lana Barnes felt that her husband could recover, the hospital disagreed. During the trial, Lana Barnes admitted to having altered her husband's advanced directive.
The case was another example of the challenges faced by families, patients and hospitals when encountering disagreements over the best path of terminal patients. Once again, the courts had to step in to resolve the issue. But my questions are: what if Al Barnes hadn't drawn up an advanced directive? How do we know that Barnes wishes didn't change after he signed his advanced directive? How do patient's protect their end of life choices as they approach the inability to state their desires?