Wednesday, January 28, 2009

End of Life Decisions

In the absence of a living will, Judge Edward Reibman can decide whether someone lives on a respirator in a hospital room or dies at home with friends.

He wrestles with his decisions, wondering if his rulings reflect his own end-of-life preferences or the little he knows about the wishes of the person he's charged with deciding for.

Reibman: "I'm sitting there on the bench, I'm supposed to make this decision based on the law, a sound rational decision. How do I make sure that my own biases don't dictate that decision?"

His search for answers led him to convene a panel, a talk that those who attended said probably will be the first of many. Reibman called together doctors, lawyers, religious leaders and court-appointed guardians, all charged with helping make decisions for others. They all agreed on one thing -- the right choices are seldom clear.

The number of guardianship cases in Lehigh County increased from about 100 in 2005 to 123 two years later. But Reibman and other court observers say the cases are becoming more complex in a time of advancing medical technology and shifting social realities.

The number of petitions filed by family members in guardianship cases is decreasing.

Janet Woffindin, director of operations for Orphans Court: "The the vast majority are initiated by hospitals, nursing homes, or agencies on aging and mental health, with officials searching for someone to make decisions on behalf of an elderly resident."

Full Article and Source:
Lehigh County judge's panel wrestles with end-of-life decisions

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One thing he can do to rest his troubled mind is respect advance directives instead of rolling over them.

Another thing would be to avoid assigning guardianships/conservatorships in the first place. Respect family first!