On Tuesday, April 12th, the Human Services Committee of the State House heard House Bill 3520, a bill to restore the rights of patients. (As of print, it was left pending in committee.) House Bill 3520 would stop the operational death panels currently sanctioned by Texas law.
Texas law (Chapter 166.046 of the Health and Safety Code) allows a physician to override and ignore a patient’s advance directive or expressed wishes. A doctor or hospital can withdraw life-sustaining treatment (including food and water) from a patient after giving ten day’s notice. Once the physician’s decision is made and then approved by the ethics committee (a.k.a., the death panel) at the hospital, the patient and his family are thrust into a frenzy of legal skirmishes, quibbling with the facility over medical records, and blindly searching for new health care facilities that will treat their ailing loved one—all to beat the ten-day clock!
House Bill 3520 would:
- expand the ten-day period and foster the transfer of the patient;
- allow a doctor to maintain the right to transfer the patient if treatment conflicts with the doctor’s judgment;
- safeguard the expressed wishes of the patient;
- improve the doctor-patient relationships;
- protect vulnerable Texans from the withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment (involuntary euthanasia); and
- strengthen the legitimacy of advance directives.
Texas Right to Life supports House Bill 3520 to restore the rights of patients and their families to make their own health care decisions. Eleven other states have enacted laws similar to that of House Bill 3520 by requiring the patient to be transferred to a more appropriate care setting—and not become a victim of involuntary euthanasia.