5 Things to Know in a Texas Hospital

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Many Texans will at some point find either themselves or a loved one in a Texas hospital.  You will be astonished to learn that the Lone Star State has some of the worst anti-patient laws in the nation.  Until the Texas Legislature repeals the anti-Life 10-Day Rule, patients in Texas hospitals will continue to be in danger of imposed death without due process of law. 

Know the truth before this happens to you!

Your wishes for continuing treatment can be overridden by a hospital committee.

Have you executed an advance directive?  Have you discussed extensively with your adult children about what sorts of treatments you do or do not wish to have if you were unable to speak for yourself?  Have you named a medical power of attorney? Do you assume that your spouse will be allowed to make decisions for your healthcare?

While all of the above can be true, they are not true all of the time.  In a chapter of state law called the Texas Advance Directives Act lies a small section of code that drastically violates patient and surrogate decision-making.  Section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code (also known as the “10-Day Rule”) allows an attending physician and the hospital ethics committee to decide to remove your life-sustaining treatment regardless of your directive and/or that of your surrogate decision-maker. 

You only have 10 calendar days.

Once a hospital committee decides to remove your life-sustaining treatment, you only have 10 days to find a new facility or care arrangement to be transferred to; after 10 calendar days have expired (including holidays and weekends) the hospital can unilaterally remove your life-sustaining treatment.  Many times, such removal results in the patient’s death. 

Wanted treatment can be removed from conscious patients.

Anyone can be a victim of the 10-Day Rule.  You can be conscious, alert, and actively requesting to stay alive, but a death panel can still override your will.  Section 166.046 of the Texas Health and Safety Code provides no limitation to the condition of a patient whom the statute can be invoked upon.  Just see the tragic high profile cases of Houstonians Chris Dunn and Carolyn Jones.  

“Life-sustaining treatment” has a broad definition.

The most common form of life-sustaining treatment that may come to mind is breathing support, such as a ventilator.  However, life-sustaining treatment that may be removed under the statutory process also includes dialysis, artificial nutrition and hydration, and in some cases, blood pressure medications. 

A diagnosis of brain death is not required for imposing the 10-Day Rule.

Brain death is often claimed by physicians as an intimidation technique to convince families to remove life-sustaining treatment, and Texas Right to Life has seen instances where declarations of brain death have been reversed after the patient’s family or legal counsel has pressed for further testing.  However, nothing in state law requires a declaration of brain death in order to start the 10 day countdown. 

If your instinct tells you that a disagreement is brewing between you and the hospital caring for your loved one, do not delay in seeking help.  

Texas Right to Life is experienced in advocating for patients and their families through these complicated conflicts with medical professionals.  While we are not a law firm and cannot ourselves provide legal representation as such, our patient advocates are deeply invested in doing all they can to ensure that you and your loved ones have a voice in this unjustly slanted process. 

Contact the Texas Right to Life Patient Advocacy Hotline at 713-782-5433 today. Speak to one of our patient advocates who are trained to identify how time-sensitive your situation is, offer practical advice and if needed, connect you with an attorney. 

Imagine how afraid and heartbroken you would feel if someone made life-and-death decisions for your loved one against your will.  This is a tragic reality for many Texas families, but your support of the Texas Right to Life Family Assistance Fund gives them hope!  Please stand up now to protect everyday Texans like you from these death panels. Enclose your check today made out to the Texas Right to Life Educational Fund with “Family Assistance Fund” written in the memo.  Without you, patients may have no fighting chance. 

Texas death panels attacked Chris Dunn in 2015 and Carolyn Jones in 2019.  Both patients were conscious, but the law granted hospital committees the power to seize their life-sustaining treatment.  Luckily, because Texas Right to Life secured them more time, both patients passed away naturally on God’s time, not by the force of hospital committees.

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