Health & Science

Family Fights Hospital Ethics Committee Decision To End Treatment

The family of a 46-year-old man with end-stage liver disease is fighting the decision of an ethics committee at Methodist Hospital which determined that further treatment is medically inappropriate.

UPDATE: Methodist Hospital reports that Chris Dunn died this morning. In a statement, the hospital says their “compassionate physicians and staff provided active life-sustaining medical care curing Chris’ entire stay in the hospital. Houston Methodist is honored to have served Chris and  his family in a spiritual environment of caring.”

Chris Dunn has been hospitalized since early October with a malignant pancreatic mass, and now organ failure. Physicians say the Pasadena man’s condition is irreversible and terminal, and a hospital ethics committee agrees.

Emily Cook is with Texas Right to Life, which wants to keep Dunn on a breathing machine.

Emily Cook speaking
Emily Cook is with Texas Right to Life

“Texas state law allows for a group of people, who have never even met Chris, to decide whether he will receive medical treatment, and make medical decisions on Chris’ behalf,” Cook said.  

Family attorney Joe Nixon has filed lawsuits to block termination of medical treatment.

“This is not a situation that is unique to Methodist, but every hospital in the state may utilize the same statutory provision to make the same nameless, faceless decision,” Nixon said.  

Joe Nixon speaking
Family attorney Joe Nixon

In a statement, Methodist says they’ve been providing the best possible life-sustaining care. Methodist has been ordered to continue care until the courts decide who should be making medical decisions for the patient. The hospital says “within the patient’s family there’s disagreement on the appropriate end-of-life care.”

Dunn’s sister Holly Gomez wants to see continued treatment.

“Methodist Hospital, or any other hospital around this country, should not have the right to come in and say, ‘We’re done. We’re gonna pull the plug on you.’ If George Bush were laying in that bed, do you think they would pull the plug on him?”

Texas Right to Life has taken up the cause of over 250 patients in similar situations, but Dunn’s family is the first willing to share its story with the public.

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