An old cause of action for medical battery is reasserting itself in a very 21st century way, as courts are beginning to allow people to sue doctors for wrongful prolongation of life. That is, for failing to honor a patient’s advance directive to withhold life-saving treatment.
The case of the moment comes from New Jersey, where a trial court last fall refused to let a health-care provider escape liability for resuscitating a woman who had an advance directive explicitly saying she didn’t want to be revived if she suffered cardiac arrest. The provider later settled the case.
A lawsuit against a doctor who saves a life may seem odd, but some people would rather not be saved than survive in a very fragile condition or one that robs them of their independence. And that’s the whole purpose of an advance directive.
It’s also widely accepted that people have a right to refuse medical treatment. A provider who treats a patient without his or her consent has, for a long time, potentially been liable for medical battery, two law professors who study end-of-life issues told me.
They expect to see more wrongful prolongation of life cases being filed around the country, as more attorneys learn about the New Jersey case. And, while they have some qualms about plaintiffs’ ability to prove damages, cases like one in Georgia that ended in a $1 million settlement suggest these lawsuits are worth pursuing, they said.
Read my story here.
Stay on top of new developments in health law and regulation, and learn more, by signing up for a free trial to Bloomberg Law.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)