Archives

Health Care Policy

This category contains 271 posts

Why does TRTL lie? (UPDATE)

I can’t tell you why, but it’s true: Well below their “Donate Now” banner, Texas Right to Life (TRTL) is shamefully spinning another one of their false stories.
Just as they lied on their website that Chris Dunn was “slain by his doctors,

they now post that a woman, Mrs. Carolyn Jones, had to be “rescued” from hers, “racing” to another facility “in the middle of the night.”

Okay, it’s night in that picture. That and the proper names are the only things they got right.
Mrs. Jones wasn’t “rescued” from the hospital that has been giving her excellent care for over 6 months. Nor were her doctors and nurses “surprised.” that she was able to breathe on her own. After all, they were the ones who weaned her from the ventilator over a month ago.
What was expected was that Mrs. Jones would be transferred out if the hospital where she’s been admitted since November, 2018 to a more appropriate, lower level of nursing care two months ago.
On April 10, Mr. Jones testified to the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee that, thanks to the hospital doctors, his wife now needed the ventilator only “occasionally at night.”

The family were given notice that they needed to transfer Mrs. Jones in March. They’ve had another doctor and three facilities capable of providing the treatments she needs waiting to accept Mrs. Jones.

When the family of a hospitalised patient refuses to allow her to be transferred to a more appropriate treatment facility, the attending doctor has no legal means other than the 166.046 process laid out in the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA). This is the legislation that has been called the “Futile Care Law” in the past, but TRTL likes to call it the” 10 Day Rule,” now, in spite of their rejection of effort after effort, etc., to expand the time frame and increase transparency and assistance. This is the issue that led to the rebuke (.PDF) of TRTL by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops and gleefully reported by the liberal press in Texas
The Jones family are real people, scared and hurting. Mr. Jones somehow was misled to believe the lie that “food and water” would be removed. I would have thought that at least one of the many, many lawyers at TRTL would have assured him that that is not legal under Texas law.
Instead, the Jones family’s fears – and your compassion – are being used as a means to TRTL’s political – and fundraising – ends.

And now, TRTL – in direct competition with – and with absolutely no mention of – Mrs. Jones’ family’s GoFundMe campaign – has been raising money in Mrs. Jones’ name. They state that the funds will be used for (TRTL) lawyer’s fees in addition to Mrs. Jones’ healthcare needs and that “excess” funds will go to help (TRTL’S) efforts for other patients.

I hope that TRTL’s money will also be used to pay for the very large hospital and doctor’s bills that the Jones family will receive. While there’s a chance that Texas Medicaid will pay for three months of medical bills, retroactively, Medicare doesn’t pay for hospitalizations over 90 days and has a 20% co-insurance (co-pay).

That’s bound to have added up in over 6 months.

We’ll just have to trust that TRTL won’t lie again.

Beverly B Nuckols, MD

Edit, Updated information:

One of the bloggers has told us more about that “rescue.” (Or today’s story, anyway.)

TRTL put her in a private ambulance and took her to *another ER,* one that couldn’t provide dialysis, so they then transferred her somewhere else.

There were comments about the first Hospital refusing transfer — no, refusing to be complicit with “dumping” a patient. Discharging to without ( or even with) acceptance of the transfer from the docs at the other facility is highly irregular and likely illegal.
Much has been said about funding. Yes. It appears that Medicare funding ran out, so no longer paying. 90 days per admission, with an extra 60 days over, under certain conditions.

About that Medicaid funding: I don’t know the limits of the mandatory asset tests, but the yearly income level is $60,000. One way to adapt is to spend money on medical costs.

Medicare makes it difficult to navigate the private pay process. When we had some question, we got informed consent, promise to pay, then performed the service, filed with Medicare, waited to be denied, then tried to Bill the patient. The risk is always a charge of “fraud and abuse.”

The same thing would have happened if the hospital had privately charged for Dialysis.

(5/20/19, BBN)

False story about Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA)

I’m a subscriber to the new reader-supported online news site, The Texan which is the project of former State Senator, Konni Burton, having recently paid for the annual subscription. (A heads up: if you click through on all my links, you’ll risk using up all your free views this month.)
But I’m disappointed to see a definite spin in today’s news story about the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), even though one of my WingRight blog posts is quoted.

TADA isn’t just for disagreements over whether CPR and ventilator support are “medically inappropriate treatment” It covers any dispute between the doctor and the hospitalized patient when “the attending physician refuses to honor a patient’s advance directive or a health care or treatment decision made by or on behalf of a patient.” (emphasis mine) This could be demand for inappropriate surgery or medications or if the patient refuses to leave the hospital or be transferred after 6 months, for instance.
From all the previous news reports and blog posts, her husband’s testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and a few of my blogs, Mrs. Carolyn Jones’ case seems to be a disagreement over whether to transfer her from the hospital, where she’s been admitted and improving for about six months.

Mrs. Jones is not dependent on the ventilator.

In fact, it sounds like Mrs. Jones has had excellent treatment at the hospital,

even after the Committee meeting on March 8.

Mr. Jones told the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee that the doctors at the hospital successfully weaned Mrs. Jones from the ventilator.

He also said that three other facilities are ready for her admission.

Drew White, Senior Editor of The Texan, and I communicated by email over the weekend, after I wrote to explain some errors in the news coverage.

I’m happy to see that today’s article by reporter Tony Guajardo quotes both opponents and supporters of TADA and corrected the impression that Mrs Jones is dependent on the ventilator: “She requires dialysis, occasionally needs a ventilator for breathing assistance, and uses a feeding tube.

All of these treatments are routinely provided at lower level of care facilities, other than tertiary hospitals.

And yet, today’s The Texan article still misrepresents this case: “UPDATE: Recovering Beaumont Woman’s Life-Sustaining Treatment to End Due to 10-Day Rule.”

There’s also a quote from Mrs. Jones’ daughter, repeated from the earlier article: “My mom is going to die on Monday because of a law that saves hospitals money.”

It turns out that money and Medicaid paperwork is actually what is keeping the family from allowing Mrs. Jones to be transferred to another doctor and facility. The family is concerned that they (rather than the hospital) will be responsible for the costs of Mrs. Jones’ care.

This is in spite of the fact that when a patient first goes on dialysis, she becomes immediately and automatically eligible to apply for Medicare and Social Security Disability.

Depending on assets and income, patients unable to work on dialysis also qualify for Medicaid and other State benefits in Texas. Medicaid will even pay bills retroactively for three months.

Even more than usual, I double checked all of my information to ensure that I’m right that Mrs. Jones isn’t dependent on hospital treatments – since it was reported in the article that the hospital would withdraw “life-sustaining treatments” at 2 PM, today, May 13, 2013.

The good news is that she isn’t dependent on the ventilator, dialysis is not constant but only 2-3 times per week and paid by Medicare, food and water by the feeding tube can’t be withheld under TADA.

Hopefully, the Jones family will finally agree to transfer her, even if costs them more than her Medicare & Social Security Disability will pay.

End of life or end of hospital stay?

What a tragic story!

While I only know what I’ve seen online, in my experience, it appears that the dispute about Mrs. Carolyn Jones is over continued hospitalization at this hospital, versus transfer to care at another facility.

(See this television news report.)

I’m the first to say that hospitals are scary places and to sympathize with families struggling to cope with the bureaucracy and protocols. However the current news, press releases, and pro-life blogs are reporting several errors and omissions about Texas’s law and legislation up for consideration in Austin.

The obvious errors in this report include:
1. First. It’s not correct that Mrs Jones will die on Monday, even if the ventilator is turned off at the hospital. She’s not intubated through the mouth or nose. Instead, there’s a tracheostomy and a feeding tube in place. Supplemental oxygen could be provided many different ways, at home or in a nursing home.
2. Mr. Jones has testified at the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting (EDIT: the video is here, at 52 minutes in) on 4/10/19 and elsewhere that Mrs Jones had been weaned off the ventilator, needing it only occasionally, at night.
2. She should be able to speak and swallow with training.
3. Texas Advance Directives Act doesn’t require that the doctor declare the treatment be “futile.” Instead, the doctor must declare that he refuses to follow a certain treatment decision that the patient or family demands .
4. Kidney dialysis is paid for by the Federal government, so the problem isn’t only funding.

In my admittedly limited knowledge about this particular case – it appears that Mr. Jones disagrees that it’s time to move from the hospital to home or nursing home, even after 5 months (not 10 days).

At least since 2005, legislation has been introduced at the State to increase the timeframe to as long as a month. Texas Right to Life refuses to agree to anything other than indefinite treatment, with the doctor forced to act against his will, violating his conscience and ignoring his medical judgement.

TRTL has even clashed with other pro-life organizations and Texas’s Catholic Bishops and “primaried” several conservative Legislators, although they are the only Texas pro-life group that opposes the law.

It would be good to add more time – I don’t know of anyone who disagrees. But there needs to be a limit to how long a doctor is forced to act against his conscience. One Bill that was rumored this year would change the “10 days” to 21 days and add a week to the notification period before the Ethics committee meets. Unfortunately, it never got past the Powers That Be.

For more on the ethics of the Texas Advance Directives Act, see this WingRight post.

The most urgent need is communication with families, correcting misunderstandings like those outlined here.

(Edited May 10, 2019 at 12:22 AST, to correct the Link to the testimony of Mr. Jones. BBN)

Emergency: Liberty Right Infringement

Texas Right to Life General Counsel Emily Cook is attacking Texas Medical Association on Facebook, even though virtually every other pro-life, medical, nursing, hospital, and disability group in Texas oppose SB 2089 by Hughes, that would change the “Texas Advance Directive Act, “TADA” will harm patients and attack the right of doctors to refuse to act against our conscience.

Here’s a partial list of organizations opposing SB 2089: Texas Medical Association, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission Ethics, Texas Catholic Bishops, Texas Nurses Association, Texas Society for Anethesiology, Texas Osteopathic Association, Catholic Health Association, Texas Hospital Association, Baylor Scott and White, Texas Teaching Hospitals, Texas Alliance for Life, Coalition of Texans With Disabilities.
The central question isn’t “10 days” or the actions of a “Committee.” Doctors start the process, and under the law, the Committee can only affirm that his decision is medically appropriate or not.
The question is whether a patient can demand that a doctor be forced against her conscience to indefinitely write orders and provide treatment she believes is not in the best interest of the patient because the patient or family wants it?
The patient is near death and in the hospital, so the doctor can’t morally just “fire” him if there’s a disagreement. We all agree that 10 days isn’t enough time for families, and have tried since 2005 to add days to the process – we had a Bill that would expand the time to a month in 2007. (CSSB 439)
But Texas Right to Life would/will accept nothing but indefinite “treatment until transfer.” They keep demanding lawyers, courts and trials for medical decisions.
This is the issue that caused the break between TRTL and the Catholic Bishops.
It would force Drs to violate our conscience, without compromising with a set, limited time frame.

We’ve worked to fix other problems: Artificially administered food and water, even full IV feedings, can‘t be removed. Texas law didn’t even mention DNRs, but last session, we passed an amendment with explicit procedures and informed consent language.

SB 2089 ends the ability for a doctor to “refuse” medically inappropriate treatment, only allows “recommending,” (while being legally required to act against her conscience, harming the patient, prolonging death and increasing side effects, requiring more treatments.)

There’s no leeway, at all, in the new Bill.

SB 2089 specifically says anyone can file a lawsuit in any Court in the County, the Court can’t charge the patient (or surrogates) any fees, and the judge is required to rule in 5 days.

More doctors will limit the number of older or sicker patients to keep from falling under the dispute process and the Court battle.
Even tertiary hospitals – teaching hospitals and big City referral hospitals – will find that their doctors don’t want to accept patients from outlying hospitals.
It will kill tort reform, because it’s designed to get all these cases into Court.
It’s like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, only bigger, in my opinion, because if doctors lose here, we lose the right to conscience in everything.

If you believe that even doctors have the right of Conscience, and that infringement of the right not to be forced to act against your will is wrong, please contact your Texas Senator and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and respectfully ask that SB2089 not be brought up.

You can let me know if you disagree on my Facebook page.

Another kind of lawyer joke

“[T]he doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.” Wesley J. Smith, Esq., Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, 4/10/2019 LifeNews.com

Wesley Smith is a rarity among the many lawyers who chased bioethics to the bedside late in the last century: he actually believes in the sanctity of human life and in the right of conscience. I’ve attended and reported on his debates and encounters with proponents of intentional euthanasia. And even happily defended him.

Unfortunately, Lawyer Smith was not above spinning the truth this month when he came from California to once again misrepresent the Texas Advance Directive Act (“TADA,” “the Act,” or “166.___”), an attempt to balance conflicting rights when doctors disagree with a patient or his surrogates about actual medical procedures and treatments that the doctor believes harms the patient.

On April 10, 2019 Mr. Smith gave invited testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in favor of SB 2089 (Hughes) and
SB 2129 (Creighton). LifeNews.com published part of his testimony online, under the title, “Texas Rule Allows Hospitals to Essentially Euthananize Patients After a 10-Day Notification.”

Mr. Smith doesn’t just contradict multiple Supreme Court rulings since Cruzan (1990) affirming that withholding or withdrawing treatment is not equivalent to euthanasia. Paradoxically, he echoes arguments that anti-conscience activists use to justify abortion on demand, Physician Assisted Suicide and intentional euthanasia by a third party by claiming that the principle of autonomy supercedes “First, do no harm,” or non-malevelence, and the right to conscience.

(You can watch all of Part I and Part II of the April 10, 2019 Health and Human Services Committee meeting addressing SB 2089 by Senator Bryan Hughes and SB 2129 by Senator Brandon Creighton online. Part I includes Mr. Smith’s testimony beginning at 33:00/1:01:10.)

We’ll skip Mr. Smith’s assertion that there is a right to force others to provide everyone medical care in general, not just in emergencies or at the end of life. I’ve covered these assertions and his attacks on the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops I’m, back in 2007.

Today, let’s just look at his spin on the current version of TADA.

Lawyer Smith uses emotionally weighted terms that aren’t in TADA, such as, “life-extending,” “futile care,” “permitting the institution to force its will on patients and families,” “invidious discrimination,” and “inappropriate care.” He contrasts patient’s “rights” with doctor’s “values,” and is the first that day to raise the specter of doctors willing to kill when patients are “expensive.” And, reflected in the LifeNews.com headline, Mr. Smith flatly says that TADA allows euthanasia – intentional acts to kill patients – equivalent to the administration of injections or medications that he wrote about this week.

As I’ve stated so many times in past WingRight.org and LifeEthics.org posts, TADA doesn’t allow us to remove or withhold care for patients, only treatments that are “medically inappropriate.” There are no futile patients, only futile treatments that cause harm to the patient over and over, without any expectation of reversing organ failure after organ failure.

Mr. Smith also ignores the multiple attempts by the medical and pro-life community and Legislature to improve the law’s timeframe and communication, much as Senator Creighton’s Bill. One example from 2007, SB 439 by Senator Bob Deuell, would have required written notice and an offer of a private ethics consult to take place at least seven days before the hospital committee meeting. That Bill had a schedule for giving the patient or surrogates written information about the dispute process, copies of medical records, and lists of resources. The family would have been given access to the committee meeting, with their own advocates. When the committee agreed that the treatment requested was inappropriate, the family would have receive assistance in searching for7⅞ another doctor or facility for at least another 21 days. I believe that the Bill bogged down in the House because of opposition from Texas Right to Life to any Bill that did not include liability for doctors and the indefinite “treatment until transfer” in this year’s SB 2089.

In the last five minutes of the Part I video, another lawyer, Texas Right to Life General Council Emily Cook, gave us the best clue about the ultimate goal of her organization: “judicial review.

Ms. Cook and Mr. Smith would have every one of these disputes settled by a Court. This is the Texas trial lawyers’ dream: a huge weapon against our State’s tort reform.

Today, the law specifically allows an appeal to a County probate judge when the Committee agrees with the doctor’s decision. SB 2129 allows a request for an injunction in any Court in the County, enabling “judge shopping.” Since it also prohibits the County from charging the patient or his surrogates any fees, the costs would fall solely on the County.

Ultimately, SB 2129 would make it much, much easier to sue the doctor and the hospital, moving Medical decision-making into the courtroom.

Most of the “stakeholders” for patient rights in Texas (including Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Coalition of Texans With Disabilities, Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, Catholic Hospital Association, Texas Nurses Association, and the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops and many others) oppose both of the Bills that Mr. Smith favored. Since SB 2129 would mandate that the County pick up any Court costs and that the judge make his ruling within five days, don’t be surprised if we hear objections from representatives of these parties, too.

So what’s the “joke?”

It could be the ridiculous notion that Lawyer Smith is a mind reader, able to discern the “invidious” motives for the “discrimination” he feels doctors and hospitals routinely practice:

“To fully comprehend the unjust nature of Texas law in this regard, realize that these “futile care” or “inappropriate care” decisions do not terminate treatment because it won’t work, but because it does. It is keeping the patient alive when the doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.” (Emphasis from LifeNews.com’s transcript.)

He repeatedly comments that physician’s decisions about medically appropriate treatment are subjective and that they (we) might “project their fears and their desires onto the patient” based on our “values,” rather than medical judgement based on repeated, at least once a day examination of the patient, reports by the nurses and staff and our education and experience.

The joke might be that Lawyer Smith volunteered that the indefinite, repeated evaluation and medical decision-making against the medical judgement of doctors would not be “slavery.” I would like to know what Lawyer Smith calls the legal requirement to use one’s body and brain to carry out actions, including writing orders for nurses and other medical staff, against your will.

It might be tragically funny to watch “judicial review” end up with the two sides hiring expert witnesses – doctors – to give the judge opposing views. There’s dark humor in the realization that ultimately the judge would order the original doctor to use her medical judgement to provide treatment – against her best medical judgement.

But the real joke is that “judicial review” risks the unintended consequence of decisions made by judges like the late t Judge George Greer, who Mr. Smith wrote about in this article.

Comments are closed. Please comment on my Facebook page.

Texas Advance Directive Act 2019 Legislature

The Texas Advance Directive Act is being attacked in the State Legislature, again, as it has just about every Session for the last 10+ years. In my opinion, one group is doing the bidding of the trial lawyers to destroy Texas’s tort reform by attempting to force every end of life treatment disagreement into the Courts.
Here’s my explanation of the Act, written in 2016, as an “effort to balance” patients’ rights and the rights of doctors to practice Medicine according to their consciences, using our best medical judgement. And here is an example of a previous attempt to truly improve the Act.
The opponents of TADA would force doctors to ignore their consciences to continue performing procedures and writing orders – for nurses and staff to carry out – against our best medical judgement, while faced with the moral distress of continuing acts that hurt our patient, as organ system after organ system fails, faster than we can compensate, prolonging and increasing his suffering and death.
For example, yesterday, the House passed a useless Amendment to a useless amendment to HB 1504, the Sunset review and reauthorization of the Texas Medical Board.
(22) in complying with the procedures outlined in Sections 166.045iand 166.046, Health and Safety Code, fails to make a reasonable effort to transfer a patient to a physician who is willing to comply with a directive.
Amendment No. 5
Representative Toth offered the following amendment to Amendment No. 4:
Amend Amendment No.4 by Toth to CSHB 1504 on page 3, line 25, between “Code,” and “fails”, insert “willfully”.””
The amendment is useless because doctors don’t handle or arrange transfers between facilities; the hospital social services staff and nurses do. The only possible exceptions might be ER docs in outlying areas, transferring to a larger medical center or a rare phone discussion between doctors about the patient’s course after the two separate staffs have worked out the logistics. Neither of these would apply in the TADA cases.
Importantly, how would the accusation of “willfully fails to make a reasonable effort” be made? Could there be more vague terms in that sentence than “willfully” or “reasonable?” (Especially in light of TRTL’s claim that 60 attempts weren’t reasonable in the tragic case recently ruled moot and dismissed by Texas 1st Court of Appeals, covered here and here.) Is this an attempt to criminalize the actions of doctors, an excuse to sue in a Court of law?
After the amendment passed, one of the lawyer lobbyists paid by Texas Right to Life tweeted a mean little remark:
The lawyer said that doctors who begin the process in TADA “set the 10 day count and sit on their hands.”
I understand that he never had to ask (to order) a nurse to cause pain to a dying patient, but he should understand that doctors don’t “sit on their hands” during the waiting period. We still perform those life sustaining procedures, write orders, and interact with the patient and family.
In order to push their view point they oppose not only other pro-life organizations, but the Texas Catholic Bishops, the Texas Baptists, and Texas Medical Association. Bills such as SB 2129 or SB 2089 would destroy TADA and undermine Texas’ tort reform.
Of course, once in the Courts, the lawyers would have to hire doctors to testify and the judges would decide between the two sides and order doctors to act against their consciences.
That, or lawyers and judges would be placed in the position of practicing medicine: writing medical orders for nurses and staff to carry out.
In the long run, the risk of civil and even criminal liability of caring for patients at the end of life would drive most doctors away from not only intensive end of life care, but increase the risk for any of us who care for trauma, oncology or geriatric patients.

Edit 19 April 2019 BBN: Comments are disabled here. Please comment at my Facebook page, “Beverly Nuckols.” https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10218835564657861&id=1163711361&refid=52&_ft_=mf_story_key.10218835564657861%3Atop_level_post_id.10218835564657861%3Atl_objid.10218835564657861%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1163711361%3Aoriginal_content_id.2226941544065344%3Aoriginal_content_owner_id.110756395683880%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10218835564657861%3Apage_id.110756395683880%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.share%3Apage_insights.%7B%22110756395683880%22%3A%7B%22role%22%3A1%2C%22page_id%22%3A110756395683880%2C%22post_context%22%3A%7B%22story_fbid%22%3A2226941550732010%2C%22publish_time%22%3A1555527649%2C%22object_fbtype%22%3A32%7D%2C%22actor_id%22%3A1163711361%2C%22psn%22%3A%22EntStatusCreationStory%22%2C%22sl%22%3A4%2C%22dm%22%3A%7B%22isShare%22%3A0%2C%22originalPostOwnerID%22%3A0%7D%2C%22targets%22%3A%5B%7B%22page_id%22%3A110756395683880%2C%22actor_id%22%3A1163711361%2C%22role%22%3A1%2C%22post_id%22%3A2226941550732010%2C%22share_id%22%3A0%7D%5D%7D%7D%3Athid.1163711361&__tn__=-R

Immunologist denies Imunology (Vaccines)

Here’s a review and critique (with live links, by Skeptical Raptor) on one of the anti-vaxx advocates, an “immunologist” who exaggerated her credentials, makes her money through the big-money scam “Vaxxed,” and who wrote this ridiculous lie:

“”Immunology does not attempt to study and therefore cannot provide understanding of natural diseases and immunity that follows them.””

“KITTENS,” before humans

I didn’t believe the opinion article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, that claimed that a Democrat who voted against last month’s S311, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” had then submitted a Bill to prevent the euthanasia of kittens used in scientific research. I assumed it was a spoof or hyperbole.

KITTENS before babies

But no, a simple search proved that Oregon’s Dem Senator Merkley absolutely opposed the Act, even posting a press release and giving his reason in Twitter, @SenJeffMerkley

The Act would not have criminalized anyone. It would only reinforce and clarify the 2002 “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” by requiring the doctor performing an abortion to provide the same care for a born infant who is unexpectantly delivered alive during a late term abortion that would be provided to any other child in the same circumstances.

The CDC estimates that about 150 babies are born alive during abortions, each year, while acknowledging that the estimate may be low.

Merkley came up with a cute name for his Bill: “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now.” It’s a shame he didn’t give as much thought to human babies.

“KITTENS,” before humans

I didn’t believe the opinion article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, that claimed that a Democrat who voted against last month’s S311, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” had then submitted a Bill to prevent the euthanasia of kittens used in scientific research. I assumed it was a spoof or hyperbole.

KITTENS before babies

But no, a simple search proved that Oregon’s Dem Senator Merkley absolutely opposed the Act, even posting a press release and giving his reason in Twitter, @SenJeffMerkley

The Act would not have criminalized anyone. It would only reinforce and clarify the 2002 “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” by requiring the doctor performing an abortion to provide the same care for a born infant who is unexpectantly delivered alive during a late term abortion that would be provided to any other child in the same circumstances.

The CDC estimates that about 150 babies are born alive during abortions, each year, while acknowledging that the estimate may be low.

Merkley came up with a cute name for his Bill: “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now.” It’s a shame he didn’t give as much thought to human babies.

“KITTENS,” before humans

I didn’t believe the opinion article by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, that claimed that a Democrat who voted against last month’s S311, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” had then submitted a Bill to prevent the euthanasia of kittens used in scientific research. I assumed it was a spoof or hyperbole.

KITTENS before babies

But no, a simple search proved that Oregon’s Dem Senator Merkley absolutely opposed the Act, even posting a press release and giving his reason in Twitter, @SenJeffMerkley

The Act would not have criminalized anyone. It would only reinforce and clarify the 2002 “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” by requiring the doctor performing an abortion to provide the same care for a born infant who is unexpectantly delivered alive during a late term abortion that would be provided to any other child in the same circumstances.

The CDC estimates that about 150 babies are born alive during abortions, each year, while acknowledging that the estimate may be low.

Merkley came up with a cute name for his Bill: “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now.” It’s a shame he didn’t give as much thought to human babies.

Please comment on my “Beverly Nuckols” Facebook page.

Designer slaves

Brave New World is still in the future, but we have the technology to create betas and gammas, etc. And with potential laws that deny personhood or any rights at all under the law to the preborn, we have the legal climate.

The question is, do we have the social climate?

Tell me: Why not manipulate our offspring any way we want if they aren’t human-enough to possess human rights?

Let me know what you think on my “Beverly Nuckols” Facebook page!

Transgender First Principles

This weekend, the debate concerning the ethics of medical and surgical intervention for transgendered men and women, more properly called “gender dysphoria,” heated up again. The New York Times published an essay by a man who wishes to become a woman so much that he is about to undergo a 6 hour surgical procedure to fashion an artificial vagina, although the author admits that the surgery may not produce happiness and, indeed, will most certainly cause lifelong pain and the necessity of further intermittent, painful procedures.

In answer to my assertion (in an online private group) that transgender ideation is a pathology, a pediatrician said that I might as well claim that being black is a pathology.
While I’ve never heard of a black person seeking medical or psychological treatment to make his body more or less in concert with his race or body image ( or maybe I have..), there has to be some perception of a problem on the part of the transgendered person who seeks intervention.
Back in the’90’s, when I was in medical school, the definition included a lack of pleasure from the “wrong” genitalia. While it appears that this requirement for intervention has gone by the wayside, at the least, gender dysphoria makes leading their lives difficult. This seems to be a fair, if simplified, definition for “disorder.”

In addition, one of the early leaders in the development of surgical procedures for trans persons, Dr. Phil McHugh, agrees that transgender ideation is a “Pathogenic meme.”

The fact is that the treatments sought or offered are based on biologic sex and are essentially bimorphic: MtF (Male to Female), FtM (Female to Male). The treatments themselves are described as “feminizing” or ” masculinizing” – one or the other.
The incidence of transgender ideation in the US is less than 1% (probably about 0.5%), with as many as 80% of those who claim to be transgendered in childhood “desisted,” changing their minds at a later date, usually around puberty.
The known association with autism
and schizophrenia, along with the “clusters” of peer-group rapid and late onset, as well as the rate of reversals, suggest caution when it comes to treatment that might later be considered disfiguring and permanent.
The author of the NYT piece states that the traditional “First Principle” of medical ethics, “First, do no harm,” is only a way for doctors to be “little kings” who deny what patients “want,”
“”Nonmaleficence is a principle violated in its very observation. Its true purpose is not to shield patients from injury but to install the medical professional as a little kings of someone else’s body.””

If doctors truly forget the First Principle, what’s to stop us from “First, doing harm?” Who decides the “harm” in that case? Better hope we don’t give up our consciences.

Certainly, in this case, I would be one of those “little king” doctors who would not carry through on surgery, based on what appears to be atypical reaction to the cross-sex hormones.
Just as it’s malpractice to affirm the anorexic girl’s body image as correct and help her avoid food, it’s unethical to pretend that transgender ideation is normal or even something we can “affirm.”

Please comment on my Facebook page, Beverly Nuckols.

Health care poll

Today, I came across a poll of likely Texas voters, conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune that said that for Texans, health care is a distant third in importance, behind border security and immigration. This was in contrast with frequent news reports in the last week that an unnamed “recent poll” had found that health care is the number one issue in the 2018 election for voters. That first, UT/TT, poll was more consistent with other recent news coverage and the issues that I keep seeing pop up on Twitter and Facebook.

So I did some research….

It turns out that the first poll (“KFF,” download pdf file,with results) was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. In fact, approximately 30% of the respondents listed health care as their number one issue and were designated “Health Care Voters” by pollsters. 70%, designated “non-Health Care Voters,” chose other issues, including the economy and jobs (21%).

The demographics of those polled were heavily slanted toward Democrats, with registered Democrats and “Independents” who are identified as “Independent Lean Democrat” adding up to 68% of the “Healthcare Voters.” “Non-Health Care Voters” came in at 49% Republican or “Independent Leans Republican.”

While KFF is considered one of the “Least Biased” polling bodies, they are still subject to sampling errors. It appears that this might be one of those times.

Comments are disabled. Comment on my Facebook page, please.

Health Insurance Choice Is Bad?

Health insurance choice is bad?

The San Antonio Express News picked up a Washington Post op ed on those big, bad Republican plans to repeal Obamacare. Originally titled, “The reason Republican Republican health-care plans are doomed to fail,” by the editorial board that declared, “There’s no way to replace Planned Parenthood.”

And it’s bunk, even as prudently renamed and appropriately filed in the Opinion section.

What we are *actually *seeing *today is that costs are rising and insurers are withdrawing from States. Choices are certainly limited if there’s only one insurance company on the exchange and routine screening costs are “free” — But the care for treatment discovered at screenings is subject to high deductibles.

Limited coverage plans with major medical for extraordinary costs – rather than a wish list covered with other people’s money from first dollar – encourages personal responsibility and will cut costs. It would also allow people to own their insurance, rather than have it controlled and limited by current employers.

“Different” (Transgender at 4?)

The TexasGOPVote website chronicles the complaint by a “Conservative, Christian” mom  that her male to female (supposedly) transgender 6 year old shouldn’t be treated differently. I agree with the underlying sentiment that it is not the child’s fault.

The child is treated differently – by parents, peers, school nurses, and any educator, doctor or other professional or official who is complicit with this abuse of a 6 year old child – because the child *is* different. Medicine, physics, and the rest of the observable, measurable and verifiable universe don’t change because a child declares that cold is hot, up is down or boys don’t feel like “she” feels (at the highly experienced age of 6). 

It is disturbing to read about the apparent mistreatment of depression that this mother describes in her earlier blog. So disturbing that I’m inclined to ignore – or at least put off to another post – commenting on the stereotype in the description of “girly girl, Kai, in pink and sparkles” or of  the suggestion in mom’s earlier blog about Joseph as “gay” (at 2!)  for displaying supposedly “flamboyantly feminine mannerisms and love for all things girly.” 

How could anyone so misinterpret the repeatedly voiced desire of a 4 year old to be taken away to heaven because another 4 year old said her father called him a freak as equivalent to hating hair cuts ( or more “feminine mannerisms“)? How can she compare her “secret” research with the proper treatment her son needed?

Unfortunately, a 6 year old claiming to be transgender is different because he or she has had his or her perceptions of the world colored by the same adults who would not allow a child they loved to play with fire or jump off the highest point of the school building. 

The fact is that genetic and phenotypically female girls will always be “different” from Joseph. From the first penetration of the zona pellucida by a sperm bearing a Y chromosome, to the differentiation of the Wolffian duct, to the first time he urinated over someone’s shoulder into the air after birth, Joseph has been a male. Stereotypes aside, he will remain a male, however he acts or is medically or surgically manipulated. The genetic and phenotypical reality of his body will always affect any future medical or surgical treatment.

Hopefully, no one will be complicit with medical or surgical castration or other mutilation until this child is legally competent to consent. In that case,  his body will still be phenotypically male, entering puberty, when he enters middle school, whether as as Joseph or Kai. Now, that will be a  “difference” evident to all the girls, including the ones who have never seen male genitals. 

It will be very evident to the survivors ​of sexual abuse. Hopefully, they called the police after they were abused.

Contrary to the claim in the blog,  Lt. Governor Patrick and the “Bathroom Bill” didn’t start the trans debate.  School districts in Texas were changing policies, entire cities have passed ordinances, and the last President issued an Executive Order that threatened Federal education dollars. 

And preditors are taking advantage of the increased access available due to the transgender debate: men like Paul Witherspoon, Levandus Gacutan, Christopher Hambrook, Richard Rodriquez, Jason Pomare, Sean Patrick Smith, or the many unnamed men who have been not reported to the police when they enter previously gender-segregated areas like poolside changing rooms, shower rooms or gym locker rooms. (I’ll let you research those names.)

Thanks to “Conservative, Christian” mom, the world is being misrepresented to other children who are encouraged to consider pathological behavior as not “different.” Because of “feelings” the rest of us are repeatedly told to ignore the difference –  and observable,  measurable, and verifiable facts. 

And this specific child is being abused. 

Beverly B Nuckols, MD. 

Law makers to doctors: “Keep the patient alive” 

If only we doctors – or legislators, lawyers and probate judges – really had the power to “keep the patient alive” as this article claims two new Bills  (  HB 4090 & SB 1213) in front of the Texas Legislature will (force doctors to) do. 

The article is misleading in its claim that a committee or a hospital decides whether or not a therapy is given: Texas doctors practice medicine in Texas. Even the Bills make it clear that the “attending physician” makes the decision whether or not to follow the patient’s (or more likely, the surrogates’) medical request.

We – Texas doctors, hospitals, and legislators – have tried repeatedly over the last decade to amend the law, Texas’ Advance Directive Act,   to increase the time frame. Last Session, we helped to ensure that food and water can’t be withheld. The lawyers and those who would have Estate (probate) judges involved in every dispute – even at the bedside of the dying – have blocked effort after effort because the Bills did not include liability for the doctor. 
These Bills are just the camel’s nose under the tent of Texas’s tort reform. Worse yet, we’d end up with medical expert testifying against medical expert in court, with the judge eventually telling the doctor how to practice medicine. It would also severe the “ethicists” who actively seek to undermine conscience protections for health care professionals.
If you’ll notice, the Bills also remove the requirement for the patient to pay for any transfer, too. I don’t suppose that the tort lawyers ​will pay for the ambulance or plane ride.

Do you want Texas law to force doctors to practice against our consciences​? 

How long and how far should any man or woman be forced by law to act against his or her will?

​Would you like to refuse?

Shocking Bill from Texas’ Jason Villaba, Republican State Representative from Dallas’ District 114 :  HB 1938 would make organ donation after death “opt out” for anyone applying for a driver’s license in Texas.

Texas would be the first State to pass such a law.

Organ donation is a public good for those who wish to do so. However, there is no ethical or legal precedent for treating human bodies – living or dead – as public property or commodities.

From the Bill as introduced:

 (2)  for an applicant who is 18 years of age or older:
                     (A)  specifically ask each applicant the
  question, “Would you like to refuse to join the organ donor
  registry?” and state, “If you answer ‘no’ to the previous question
  or do not answer the previous question, you consent to join the
  organ donor registry by performing either of those actions.”; and
                     (B)  if the applicant does not affirmatively
  refuse to be included in the registry under Paragraph (A), provide
  the person’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, most
  recent address, and other information needed for identification
  purposes at the time of donation to the nonprofit organization
  contracted to maintain the statewide donor registry under Section
  692A.020, Health and Safety Code, for inclusion in the registry.

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/HB01938I.htm

Honk if you love pizza and abortion!

​Perfect pro-abortion slogan: “Honk if you love pizza and abortion!”


Because, equivalent, yes? And illogically proud of it – see the young woman in the left lower quadrant. That sign certainly is evidence that “reproductive rights” advocates are, indeed, “pro-abortion.” 

The Texas Tribune is providing its usual biased coverage of the Texas Legislature. The editors allowed the banality of a pro-abortion sign equating the love of abortion and pizza to creep into their report on the fears of the groups who make a profit from ending the lives of the most vulnerable humans and their advocates. 

There’s no logic in claiming that an abortion doesn’t end the life of a human. With current science and technology, it’s anti-science to make such a claim. Proponents of elective abortion deny that every human is endowed with inalienable rights. Instead, they defend the falsehoods that embryos and fetuses are less than human and definitely not human-enough to possess inalienable human rights. 

As to the complaints about insurance coverage for abortion? It’s called, “Elective abortion.” Insurance shouldn’t pay for “elective” procedures. And seriously: “a rider” to pay for elective abortion?  How fiscally responsible is that?  

“Heart” if you (heart) graphic proof of illogic and irresponsibility

Pay attention: it’s policy, not bias

screenshot_20161109-175849The consensus of media pundits and bloggers, as well as quite a few liberal and even Conservative op-ed authors, is that Donald J.Trump was elected President out of some misguided national populism and anger at Congress, fueled with a lot of racism, misogyny and hate. The fact that those same voters elected a Republican majority in the House and Senate  – sending virtually every eligible Republican incumbent back to DC – is glossed over.

The idea that Conservatives really believe in small government and equal opportunity supported by personal responsibility is rarely voiced. That we might actually vote, not only for President but consistently down ballot, in order to defend the Bill of Rights and the right to life is ignored while we are accused of xeno-, homo-, and poly-whatever-phobia. I read that I am “afraid” of other lifestyles, religions, and losing my “privilege” based on being a White Christian.

Personally, I approve of most of the Republican Platform, especially where it addresses core Conservative issues, such as low taxes and equal treatment under the law. I want a Legislature that will uphold the Constitution as it’s written and defend against the infringement of inalienable rights. I don’t want activist judges nominated or confirmed at any level of the Federal Court system, especially the Supreme Court. I hope President Trump and the Republican Congress majority will decrease the hassle factors and threats placed on the practice of medicine and business in general by an overreaching Federal bureaucracy.

And, yes, my sense of fairness hopes that our existing immigration laws will finally be enforced, as an outcome of the”equal treatment under the law.”

Instead of facile clichés fed by cherry-picked sound bites and the latest talking points from the Left, try looking at and listening to the 59 Million voters across the country who elected a Republican candidate for President, and ensured a Republican majority including all those “establishment” candidates in both the House and Senate. 

It’s the Republican platform and Conservative policy that we Conservatives voted for, not one man.

Obama’s Abortion Cronyism 

Obama’s new Health and Human Services regulations will prohibit consideration of whether a provider does abortions – or sells body parts – or not.

Kansas and Texas, among other States, attempted to prioritize their limited tax dollars, preferring to steer money – and patients – toward continuing and comprehensive caregivers – primary care providers- over  reproductive health “boutiques:”

When PP sued, they lost. But Obama arbitrarily stripped the State’s Title X funds and gave the money to PP, anyway.

The “most transparent Administration ever” went further:

 In New Hampshire, the administration even refused to disclose information about its direct Planned Parenthood grant, claiming disclosure would harm the nonprofit’s “competitive position.”””

What competition??? That’s pure cronyism and blatant support of the Democrat’s  – and Obama’s – pro-abortion political ideology.

Edited 11/12/16: misspelling of Services in first sentence BBB

Department of Defense Transgender Plans – Bottom Line

United States Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, declared the US military Independence Day from biology and human development. There will be a necessary increase in the military’s dependence on medicine, however.

“In an historic and controversial move, the Pentagon on Thursday lifted its longstanding ban on transgender troops and began outlining how the military will begin allowing — and paying for — service members to transition, medically and officially, from one gender to another.

“Now transgender troops will no longer be considered “medically unfit” for military service. By October, transgender troops may begin an official process to change gender in the military personnel management systems.”

****

“”The most common treatment for gender dysphoria is hormone therapy.”

This shouldn’t be a problem, other than a few hot flashes here and there – wherever.  After all, the American Medical Association has decided that neither genetic nor physical sex – also known as”anatomy,” trump feelings – or official birth records.

““Breast implants may be medically necessary” for some individuals, said another defense official familiar with the medical aspects of transgender treatment.

“Cosmetic surgery for gender transition, however, would in most cases be considered an elective procedure and not be covered by the military health system, defense officials said. Many transgender individuals do not opt for a full sex-change operation to include “bottom” surgery that changes genitalia.” (Emphasis mine.)

So, the DOD may buy some estrogen and testosterone and a few “medically necessary” breast implants, they don’t plan to pay for “bottom surgery.”.   In light of current insurance criteria, a huge of ” the standard practice in the civilian medical community,” however, I’m not sure how long that plan will last. (See the excellent and thorough discussion of medical necessity for gender reassignment surgery, provided online by Aetna, here.)

Right now, the question seems to be more about what the well dressed transgendered soldier, sailor or Marine will be wearing next year.

I haven’t served, but it seems to me that the solution is a truly *uniform* we of “grooming standards and uniform-wear,” job descriptions and fitness requirements. If genetic or physical sex is irrelevant to”gender identity,” then they should certainly be irrelevant as to readiness standards.

BTW, this may just be the justification for “access to 100 percent of America’s population” for future drafts.

Texas’ Women’s Health, UT Study: Other than that*, the story was true.

*The authors of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine admit to a narrow focus that ignored the multiple methods of funding Family Planning in Texas,  looking instead at a single type of “provider” – Title X clinics like Planned Parenthood (“PP”) – and a single source of funding for a specific set of services: long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUD and implants and injectables.

Yet, in typical fashion, the reports about the study claim much more. For example, the Texas Tribune has an article out, “Texas disavows Controversial Women’s Health Study,”  about the political fallout due to the skewed conclusions of the authors and the even more skewed editorializing in the media.

While the NEJM article (free article!) states in the “Methods” section that,

“After the exclusion, the provision of injectable contraceptives fell sharply in counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates but not in counties without such affiliates; subsequently, the numbers of claims in both groups of counties remained relatively stable during the next 2 years. In contrast, the provision of short-acting hormonal methods changed little in the two groups of counties in the quarter after the exclusion and declined steadily thereafter.” (Emphasis mine. )

the Tribune article reports that in answer to criticism,

Joseph Potter, one of the UT researchers who co-authored the study, said in an email that the paper addressed the “specific question” of how the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program affected women. Nothing raised in Traylor’s letter, he said, contradicted the researchers’ conclusions.

“We made no claims about access to reproductive health care as a whole in Texas,” he said, and he stood by the finding that claims for long-acting contraceptives fell after Planned Parenthood was excluded from the women’s health program.

The law in question, SB7, was passed with bipartisan support in 2011, a year when Texas, along with State budgets all over the Nation were tight. Although family planning was cut, no specific vendor was “excluded” and PP was not even mentioned in the legislation. Only because PP did not offer continuing, comprehensive care, that business would effectively be cut out.

The Obama Administration took great offense at our State’s attempt to take care of the whole woman and refused all Family Planning Title X money for Texas Medicaid.

Instead, Obama intervened to specifically direct $13 Million of Title X funds to a private organization,the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (“WHFP”) which funds only Title X clinics, almost all of which are now Planned Parenthood businesses), so no money was lost even at PP.

The State Health Services no longer managed those Medicaid matching dollars once allowed by a special Medicaid waiver. Instead, State funding for the Family Planning programs and the Texas Women’s Health Program, was replaced by State dollars and directed toward programs and doctors that offer continuing, comprehensive care, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), State, County and local clinics and hospitals, and fee for service doctors that participate with Medicaid. Women could be diagnosed and treated for a much broader spectrum of health problems and their families were welcome at the same clinics.

Senator Jane Nelson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and sponsor of the Bill, objects to the implication by the NEJM that the authors were writing on behalf of the State. In her letter to the Executive Commissioner of Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services, Chris Traynor, Senator Nelson noted,

“This study samples a narrow population within the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) — which represented only 33 percent of the overall number of women enrolled in our women’s health programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This ignores hundreds of thousands of women being served through the Expanded Primary Health Care Program; the Family Planning Program; and the 628,000 women of child-bearing age receiving full Medicaid benefits, 75 percent of which received contraceptive services in FY 14. Women often rotate in and out of our state programs, so we must look across our entire system to determine whether we are truly meeting their needs. Just because a claim for service was not submitted to TWHP does not mean a woman went without that service.
The study also creates an impression that fewer Texas women are accessing long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). That’s simply not true. Across our state programs, there were more claims for LARCs in FY 2014 than there were in FY 2012 when Planned Parenthood was still a provider.”

In other words, women with private insurance and women who never had access to PP had similar numbers.

And another thing: Potter, a sociologist at UTAustin and the co-author quoted above, was the one who told the LA Times that,  “It’s not like there is a large, over-capacity of highly qualified providers of effective contraception out there just waiting for people to show up.”

On behalf of Texas’ Family Physicians, OB/Gyns, Pediatricians and Internists who accept traditional Medicaid and who had been unable to access the money in those competitive Title X grants awarded to PP, I’d like to inform him that yes, we have been waiting – for a chance to offer our patients this care.

But other than that ….

Human rights for this class of persons?

How human is human enough for human rights?

Justice Taney on slavery, in the ruling on the Dred Scott case:
“”

The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement [people of Aftican ancestry] compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them. “

Nevertheless,  today’s Supreme Court hearing didn’t deal with the question of whether the zygote/embryo /fetus is human enough. It dealt with the regulations for abortion businesses and the doctors who work for them. These are essentially the same rules imposed on Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers.

Doctors must offer continuing care and the buildings should allow safe egress and sanitary standards of care.  The challenge is against State protections for the women who have chosen abortion.

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

Death Politics

Someone named Rich DeOtte has written a Facebook piece attacking friends of mine. Rich mocks Dr. Joe Pojman as “a rocket scientist” and “knucklehead” (needless to say, that’s not popular in the Nuckols household) and takes a slap at Kyleen Wright, of Texans for Life Coalition and the Texas Medical Association.

Dr. Joe Pojman, Ph.D., is indeed a “rocket scientist,” who gave up his original career path of aerospace engineering to sacrifice as founder and Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life, an organization I’m proud to support and serve as a Board member.

Joe wrote the op-ed that Rich attacks in direct response to the “misrepresentations” in another, political op-ed piece by Emily Kebedeaux Cook on the Texas Right to Life Website. Joe only wrote about issues, and did not engage in name calling or derision. The only reason Emily and TRTL are mentioned is because she’s the author of the political opinion piece about the “decline in the Texas Legislature’s efforts to protect human Life.”

As Joe points out, the very document to which Emily refers refutes her position: Texas was named one of three “Life List All-Stars” for 2016 by the Americans United for Life.

Joe laid out the case that our Texas Legislature’s pro-life laws are most definitely not at a standstill: we are ahead of the Nation. Joe’s position that Texas leaders gave us many successes in the 2015 84th Legislature is supported by the similar list of “Wins” reported by the Texas Catholic Conference, representing the Bishops of Texas. In an earlier letter, TCC notes that many of the criticisms Emily makes in her February 8th blog post were not previously scored “equitably” by TRTL. For instance, Senator Bob Deuell received no credit for authoring much of what became HB2.

In fact, Texas’ Legislative leadership in passing pro-life laws is why many of us are going to Washington, DC on March 2nd to bear witness when the Supreme Court hears testimony on the abortion facility regulations in HB2.

Emily and Rich focus most of their criticism on the efforts of pro-life groups, including doctors like me, to reform end of life care and the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA). Session after session since it was passed, we in the pro-life community have had our efforts repeatedly blocked by the “death panel” accusations Rich makes and the demands in Emily’s op-ed.

I was one of the doctors appointed to the Texas Medical Association ad hoc committee that evaluated last sessions’ end of life Bills for TMA approval. Our group of doctors agreed to and helped fine tune HB 3074, what Emily called a “modest protection”: prohibiting the removal of Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration, including food and water by invasive medical methods like IV’s and “Total Parenteral Nutrition.” We were called anti-life and pro-“death panel” (Rich’s words) for including medical exceptions for the rare circumstances when the patient can’t process the AANH and/or when it actually caused harm.

Those “three strongest Pro-Life bills” that Emily mentioned were included in the “Wins” listed by the TCC. The Bills not only would have forced doctors to continue to indefinitely perform acts that we believe are not medically appropriate as long as a patient or his family demands it. They would have forced all disputes between the doctors practicing medicine and patients or their families into court and add “liability”(civil and criminal penalties) for the doctor.

Forget if you can, that if all disputes go to court judges would be required to determine medical care – to practice medicine – probably based on the testimony of dueling, paid medical expert doctors. Malpractice rates will go up for doctors taking on the most vulnerable patients – the elderly, the trauma victims and the victims of cancer. Those doctors will spend more time in courts, rather than in the ICU. And so will more grieving families.

We found out what happens when malpractice goes up in Texas, before tort reform was passed. Because of the malpractice crisis, there were no neurosurgeons west and south of San Antonio and Houston – none at all in El Paso or all of South Texas. We were losing obstetricians and family doctors willing to deliver babies and offer prenatal care, all over the State.

I don’t know how to translate past physician shortages directly into the possible shortage of doctors providing end of life care. However, I will predict that fewer family doctors, internists, pulmonologists and the ICU intensivists will be able to afford to practice in the ICU. Just as a patient had to be flown to Dallas, San Antonio or Houston from most of Texas for a head injury, only the tertiary medical centers in those cities will be able to staff their ICU’s properly.

Physicians, not hospitals – and certainly not courts – practice medicine in Texas. Doctors must be allowed to practice medicine according to our medical judgment, which is a combination of education and experience, under the watchful eye of the community; not “death panels,” but fellow physicians, nurses, ethicists, lawyers (who may be any of the former) and lay people. In the end, if you force the hands and minds of doctors against their judgment, you will end up with doctors practicing without judgment, and humans with inalienable rights forced to act against our will and in violation of our conscience.

And, now, back to Rich’s Facebook post. Think twice when you read political posts full of  personal attacks and name calling. We should be able to discuss politics without, as Emily said in her blog post, “unnecessary, vicious, and vindictive fights inside the Republican Party.”

Edited to fix a name glitch – BBN

“Inaccurate and misleading” (Cruz attacks on Rubio)

At the Faith and Family conference, Senator Ted Cruz claimed that Senator Marco Rubio had not supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood by not voting against the annual budget vote in September, 2015.

I don’t know if most of my readers can understand what a big step it is for a group like National Right to Life to enter into this political debate between pro-life candidates. However, this accusation was enough to cause this statement to go out, as reported by Andrew Bair, @ProLifePolitics :

https://mobile.twitter.com/ProLifePolitics/status/698321269687775232/photo/1

“The following may be attributed to Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life:tobias feb 2016

“Marco Rubio voted to defund Planned Parenthood before Ted Cruz ever got to the U.S. Senate (see roll call on H. Con. Res. 36, April 14, 2011). Since Ted Cruz joined the U.S. Senate, both he and Sen. Rubio have voted the same on every roll call that National Right to Life regards as pertinent to defunding Planned Parenthood. To suggest that Rubio voted wrong or missed meaningful votes on the Planned Parenthood issue is inaccurate and misleading. National Right to Life is pleased that all of the major Republican candidates for president, Sens. Rubio and Cruz included, have stated that, if elected, they would work to derail Planned Parenthood’s government gravy train. “

News: “U.K. Scientists Given Green Light To Edit Human Embryos” | IFLScience

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/uk-scientists-given-green-light-edit-human-embryos

Cute. We’re assured that it’s still illegal to implant these “edited,” engineered embryos – but until now, it wasn’t legal to edit them! See the pattern?

The experiments are only supposed to only  use “surplus” embryos conceived by in vitro fertilization. Next will come the argument that embryos should by designed “from scratch” as a couple’s right (or group marriage partner’s rights.

The only embryos that will be helped as a result of this line of experimentation wold be extracorporeal embryos that are to be edited, themselves! Job security for the experimenters, perhaps.

We can be sure implantation will happen, moving closer to “designer babies.” Lots of science fiction has often dealt with the good and bad, the intended and unintended consequences of “editing” the humans or transhumans we conceive.

The unintended consequences can’t be known, but we can know that they will occur. And yet, that child of tomorrow can’t consent, his or her contemporaries can’t consent and their off spring certainly can’t consent.

The nascent  human once again unquestionably becomes the means to another’s end, rather than an end in himself.

Yes, someone will point out that  many or even most parents may have children for their own purposes other than to truly become one with their spouse or to reproduce and pass on their genes. The mere fact that anyone can contemplate “spare” or “excess” human beings is proof of that. (And don’t forget the “unwanted” child the abortion advocates constantly remind us of.)

Will there be a money-back guarantee for the “failed” comodified child?  Will those future generations think better of us than we regard past efforts at breeding a better human? Let’s hope that if we live among them, they tolerate us!

Lawyers, politics, and end of life

      Two days before Christmas, 46 year old Chris Dunn died in the ICU at Houston’s Methodist Hospital. Almost everything you’ve read and heard is a deliberate, political skewing of the facts.

Texas Right to Life turned Mr. Dunn’s imminent death from metastatic pancreatic cancer into a crusade against the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA or the Act). The Act is invoked by the attending doctor – not the hospital or ethics committee – when family members demand that he or she perform acts that go against the conscience because they are medically inappropriate, causing the patient to suffer without changing his course.

In this case, the mother and father disagreed with one another about the care plan and the patient was unable to make legally binding decisions. The father agreed with Mr. Dunn’s doctors that the treatment was causing suffering, objected to surgery to place a tracheostomy, and wanted hospice and comfort care. The mother wanted dangerous, painful procedures performed that would not change the medical outlook except to possibly hasten death.

And, unless you read the court records, you wouldn’t know that the judge ruled that Chris was not mentally competent to make his own medical decisions, that the hospital never wanted guardianship and had voluntarily promised to continue care until the guardianship could be settled.  In fact all the lawyers, including the Texas Right to Life representatives,  signed off on an agreement acknowledging this promise on December 4th.  Abatement agreed Dec 4 2015 ( The official court records are available to view free of charge online at the Harris County District Clerk’s website as protected pdf images. See Family case number 2015- 69681.)

Inflammatory headlines falsely claimed that “the hospital” had imposed a “death sentence,” and was actively trying to kill Mr. Dunn by refusing to diagnose, treat or even give a prognosis.  That same blog post mentioned non-standard treatments that some in the family were demanding.

First of all, of course there was a diagnosis. Several, in fact. From the signed affidavit of Mr. Dunn’s attending physician, filed December 2, 2015 in response to the law suit:

“Based on my education, training, experience, as well as my care of Mr. Dunn, I, and members of my team, have advised his family members that Mr. Dunn suffers from end stage liver disease, the presence of a pancreatic mass suspected to be malignant with metastasis to the liver and complications of gastric outlet obstruction secondary to his pancreatic mass. Further, he suffers from hepatic encephalopathy, acute renal failure, sepsis, acute respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and gastrointestestinal bleed. I have advised members of Mr. Dunn’s family that it is my clinical opinion that Mr. Dunn’s present condition is irreversible and progressively terminal.”

The primary diagnosis was metastatic pancreatic cancer. The cancer was a mass that blocked the ducts and blood vessels coming from the liver as well as the normal function of the intestines. As liver excretions backed up into the liver and the blood pressure in the liver increased, Mr. Dunn suffered a life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed, fluid buildup in the abdomen and lungs, and sepsis (an overwhelming infection). All of these would aggravate respiratory failure, the necessity  of a ventilator and lead to the kidney damage. Liver failure often results in hepatic encephalopathy  and variable delirium.

There was definitely treatment given, including tube and IV feedings, antibiotics, the ventilator, and periodic removal of the abdominal fluid. Again, this was all publicly documented in Court documents, in the media and even on the Texas Right to Life blog that claimed that “Houston Methodist has invested no time or effort in Chris’s health, instead exerting their energies into trying to kill him instead.” [sic]

The Intensive Care doctors as well as the Biomedical Ethics Committee, met with the parents to explain Mr. Dunn’s condition and his prognosis. The family was given notice before the Committee hearing and met with the (not at all “nameless” or “faceless”) Committee to discuss their (differing) wants. Thirty days’ worth of medical records, a hospital case worker and assistance in finding alternative care were made available to the family.

Then, there’s the complaint about the limits on visitors and videotaping. It is not unusual to limit Intensive Care Unit visits to specific times and to allow only close family, especially when the patient can’t consent and there is contention among family members. It is certainly standard to prohibit filming in the Unit, since patients are visible from one area to the next, in various states of undress and undergoing constant or frequent *intensive* treatments.

(BTW, one of the lawyers in the TRTL ICU video proves the basis for the rules: he is not compliant with the usual isolation procedures. Former Senator Joe Nixon didn’t wear the protective gown at all correctly, risking the introduction of infectious contamination into the room and/or taking germs home with him.)

It’s very unusual for patients on a ventilator to be conscious because of the severe discomfort associated with the foreign body – the breathing tube – that is necessary in the airways. It’s difficult to believe that anyone would complain about sedating Mr. Dunn in order to bypass his gag reflex.

Finally, the standard of care in advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer is pain relief and palliative support. The surgery to remove a pancreas is extremely dangerous for even healthier patients. As Mr. Dunn had already had an episode of bleeding and both liver and kidney failure, it’s likely that even a biopsy of the pancreatic mass or liver, much less surgery, would have caused more life-threatening bleeding. With liver and kidney damage, he wouldn’t have been able to tolerate trials of radiation or chemotherapy, either.

In fact, the doctors and nurses gave excellent treatment all along, as shown by his survival beyond the average for patients who presented in such a precarious state and acknowledged by Mrs. Kelly in her statement after Chris’ death.

The truth is that Methodist never made plans to “kill” Mr. Dunn. Mr. Dunn was never in danger of the hospital “pulling the plug.” The real problem was a disagreement between Mr. Dunn’s divorced parents over who would legally make medical decisions. That rift is bound to have been made worse by TRTL and the lawyers turning Chris’ illness into a public political battle. The accusations about euthanasia, killing and murder may cause other future patients harm, if they are reluctant to seek care because of these stories.

VA frauds sent to Phoenix instead of Prison !

thiefThe Veterans Administration demoted two women who defrauded the agency and manipulated other employees, to cost the agency $274,000 and $129,000. The agency also rewarded a woman who covered up malpractice with a promotion! None of the women were prosecuted. No one  demanded restitution! Instead, they kept their jobs and at least two were sent to work at the already-corrupt Phoenix VA hospital system.
From the Washington Examiner:

“. . . The VA’s watchdog found officials had used the program to get around prohibitions on giving raises to employees.

“Graves, who allegedly pressured another VA official to transfer so she could take his job, was reassigned to the Phoenix VA hospital, where a national scandal involving a cover-up of patient wait times erupted last year.

“The same day the VA announced it would not fire Rubens and Graves and instead shuffle them around within the agency, the VA also announced it had named a scandal-plagued official from the Vermont facility to run the Phoenix hospital.”

So, THAT’S the meaning of “good enough for Government work!!!

“Duty” to use human tissue?

Robbins smoking fetal researchWe should at least have as much care for the donation of tissue from aborted human fetuses and embryos as we do for the donation of organs from those killed by capital punishment. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death and the collection of tissues, at least, must be carried out by licensed and regulated medical personnel.

Robin Alta Charo (a law and ethics professor at the University of Wisconsin) has an opinion piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, “Fetal Tissue Fallout.” in which she claims that society has a “duty” to use tissues harvested after elective, intentional abortions.

I object to the idea that society has a “duty” to make use of the end products of either procedure. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death by licensed and regulated medical personnel, making those of us who vote for the legislators who write laws complicit in the actions, at least remotely. Under a strict philosophy of ethics based on the protection of inalienable rights, each act should be weighed individually and should only be carried out when the one killed is a proven danger to the life or lives of others.

Robin justifies her elevation of the use of fetal tissues after elective abortion to that of a “duty” by citing past benefits of research using fetal tissues. She is more political and names past Republican supporters in an earlier op-ed, published in the Washington Post on August 4th.

Yes, society has benefited from these tissues.  However,  that picture at the side of this post depicts Dr. Frederick Robbins, one of the scientists who utilized fetal tissue in the 1950’s development of the Salk polio vaccine. Dr. Robbins is depicted smoking at work in the laboratory, while handling test tubes without gloves. We know better than that, now.  Isn’t it time that science and medicine researchers catch up with our knowledge that the human fetus is a human being from the moment of fertilization?

Where are the Ethics Review Boards that monitor for the unethical behavior we’re hearing about in the videos from the Center for Medical Progress?

In 2013, the science journal, Nature, published an article covering the history and evolution of informed consent and compensation for donors of human tissues, including the fetal tissue culture, WI-28.  Ms. Charo was quoted as supporting monetary compensation:

But, says Charo, “if we continue to debate it entirely in legal terms, it feels like we’re missing the emotional centre of the story”. It could be argued, she says, “that if somebody else is making a fortune off of this, they ought to share the wealth. It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Yes, “It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Regulate anti-vaccine docs?

syringe justiceWe may not ever solve the problem of an irresponsible tabloid press and sensation-seeking media, since the freedom of speech is too important to infringe.  But we do have power over those we license as physicians.

Dr. Walt Larimore enters the vaccine debate in his blog, not by suggesting forced vaccination, only the regulation of physicians. I wouldn’t support the recommendation without some leeway — I’m certainly not going to approve of every vaccine without a time trial in this very diverse lab that is the United States.

However, Dr. Larimore and his guest author, Dr. Russell C. Libby, are right to raise the ethical and medic0-legal responsibility of physicians who are licensed by the State and who advocate against good science and medical standards.

 

From the article:

“State medical boards must decide if the actions of healthcare practitioners who advocate against vaccination and undermine the public health efforts of their communities warrant investigation and intervention. There are a number physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals who trivialize and discourage immunization, whether it be for philosophical, financial, or self-promotional reasons.

“When the patients they influence contract preventable disease and have bad outcomes or they cause the spread to a vulnerable population, they should be held liable for malpractice. If it is in the midst of an outbreak or epidemic, medical boards need to sanction or suspend licenses.”

 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time — especially over the last week – attempting to educate interested people (including a family member) about the safety and usefulness or efficacy of vaccines.  My motto for these arguments has always been that, “Truth will out,” and, “If we’re right, we should be able to teach and convince.”

However, within the last week, an irresponsible Texas radio host trotted out the discredited and un-licensed doctor who fabricated the MMR/autism fraud and a Canadian newspaper published a hit piece on Gardasil. (You can find them easily on Google – I won’t give them “hits” from my page.)

When licensed physicians – men and women who should know better – spread demonstrable lies, even after being found guilty of fraud or when demonstrably spreading harmful misinformation, there should be consequences.

@bnuckols tweets

Click here to get your “Choose Life” license plate

Rick Perry RickPAC

Yes, I'm still for Governor Perry!

RickPAC

What to read around here

Archives

SiteMeter