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Ted Shaw Blog
22

The Privileged Role Texas Hospitals Play In End-of-Life Care

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This week, THA is hosting a summit for members on recent legislation that gets to the very center of hospitals’ most privileged work. The summit focuses on Senate Bill 11, passed during the special legislative session last year, which changes when inpatient do-not-attempt-resuscitation orders can be used.

Hospitals get to be present at the beginning of life. And at the end. Both events are filled with the deepest and most human of emotions, not just for patients and their families but for physicians, nurses and all the other hospital employees who invest in and commit to this work.

Anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, confusion are just some of the emotions surrounding the end of life. For care teams, part of their important work is providing the space to feel and express those emotions. They also work to minimize events and circumstances that could in any way make those feelings unnecessarily worse. This is all alongside their work to provide treatment and relief from pain and suffering.

THA opposed Senate Bill 11 in the last legislative session. We opposed it because we heard from hospitals over and over again that the bill would make an already complex, fraught and emotional situation much worse. It could increase pain and suffering not just for the patient but for loved ones as well. And it could threaten the sacred physician-patient relationship.

Today, despite our opposition, SB 11 is the law. And every hospital in the state is tasked with compliance. And, more importantly, tasked with making sure it doesn’t interfere with patient care or undermine patient autonomy.

End-of-life care will continue to be a divisive political issue. In the challenging political environment, our goal is to make sure that hospitals’ privileged role in the end of life is understood and respected. And that no matter what a patient’s choices, that their rights and autonomy are protected.

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