A quadriplegic patient died of the novel coronavirus after a Texas hospital stopped treating him.
In early June, 46-year-old Michael Hickson was taken to St David’s South Austin Medical Center after he contracted COVID-19 and pneumonia at the nursing home where he lived.
Shortly after arriving, a physician told Hickson’s wife, Melissa, that he didn’t think treatment would improve her husband’s quality of life due to his disabilities.
Six days he was first transferred to St David’s, on June 11, Hickson passed away.
Melissa recorded two conversations she had with her husband’s doctor and posted them on YouTube.
‘Will [treatment] affect his quality? Will it improve his quality of life?’ the physician tells her.
‘And the answer is no.’
Melissa is heard asking: ‘Why wouldn’t it? Being able to live isn’t improving the quality of life?’
‘There’s no improvement with being intubated, with a bunch of lines and tubes in your body, and being on a ventilator for more than two weeks,’ the doctor replies.
In the recorded video, the doctor told Melissa that patients who were being treated with a drug were ‘walking and talking,’ unlike her husband.
She told KVUE that her conversation with medical staff surprised her.
‘The reason we go to hospitals is to be treated, and it is not to be based on a scale of whether or not you’re disabled or anything else,’ she said.
‘It is merely to be saved and for treatment.’
St David’s chief medical officer denies that Hickson’s paralysis or disabilities played a role in the decision of the hospital to stop treatment.
‘Every clinical decision that was made for him was done as part of a multidisciplinary team that included his caregiver, who was his surrogate family, according to the law,’ Dr DeVry Anderson told KVUE.
The caregiver was an agency called Family Eldercare, appointed by the court after battles between Hickson’s wife and his sister for custody.
‘Mr Hickson’s spouse, family, and the medical community were in agreement with the decision not to intubate Mr Hickson,’ Family Eldercare said in a statement.
‘As Guardian, and in consultation with Mr Hickson’s family and medical providers, we agreed to the recommendation for hospice care so that Mr Hickson could receive end-of-life comfort, nutrition and medications, in a caring environment.
Ethicists and disability rights activists say there are shocked at the alleged treatment of Hickson.
‘Whenever you say quality of life, that is completely subjective, and is about whether I think this person deserves to live or not live,’ Kimberlyn Schwartz, a Texas Right to Life representative, told KVUE.
‘And frankly, those decisions are best left to the patient and their family.’
In the US, there are more than 2.7 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 128,000 deaths.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Mary Kekatos