Al Barnes has been in eight hospitals in the past 10 months. His diagnoses include end-stage respiratory distress, renal failure, dementia and other maladies.
Now the 85-year-old from Scandia, Minn., is at the center of a wrenching and unusual court struggle over who will control his medical care.
A doctor at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park will go to court Wednesday, seeking to replace Barnes' wife with a substitute decision-maker and arguing that she is making futile and reckless decisions to prolong her husband's life.
The case, scheduled to be heard in Hennepin County Probate Court, pits not just Methodist but the opinions of several Twin Cities hospitals against a woman who believes her husband can recover from his vegetative state. While Barnes is being fed via a tube and breathing through a ventilator, Lana Barnes said that is because of treatable infections and fluid buildup in his brain that is often misdiagnosed.
"I know my husband. I know I'm not crazy. I know that Al is there," said Barnes, 56, who was placed in charge of her husband's care several years ago through his written health care directive. She filed paperwork Tuesday to move the case to a Chisago County court nearer to her home in Scandia.
Methodist is but the latest hospital to assume Barnes' care, and to clash with his wife in a case that raises highly charged questions about the care of gravely ill patients.
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Wrenching Court Case - Doctor vs. Patient's Wife