Impasse puts do-not-resuscitate reform, an Abbott priority, at risk


Highlights

Legislation would require specific patient approval for do-not-resuscitate orders in hospitals.

Late disagreements put reforms in jeopardy with special session half over.

Efforts to require specific patient approval for hospital do-not-resuscitate orders foundered Tuesday, adding another of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities to the special session’s endangered list.

The chairman of the House State Affairs Committee abruptly canceled Tuesday’s public hearing on a do-not-resuscitate reform bill, citing a lack of consensus on key aspects of House Bill 12 — disagreements that became evident during a long and contentious closed-door meeting with interested parties Monday.

“Right now, this bill is in a big mess,” said the committee chairman, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. “Can they pull it together? They certainly can, but I’ll be blunt, too. The meeting yesterday was a good indication that this bill has major policy issues that have to be addressed because the issue itself is too important.”

With several proposed versions of the bill floating around, it would have done little good to take public comment, he said.

“Until or unless the major groups can come together, we shouldn’t be passing something that is detrimental to the citizens of this state, which is where we appear to be headed,” Cook said.

READ: Big Oil, large Houston corporations blast bathroom bills

With the 30-day session half over, the delay puts HB 12 — and an identical bill passed by the Senate — in jeopardy. But HB 12’s author, Rep. Greg Bonnen, a Friendswood Republican and neurosurgeon, said Tuesday that he was confident the impasse can be overcome.

“It’s a healthy process for people to voice their concerns and point out any potential weaknesses, and shore up those weaknesses, while maintaining the goal of allowing patients and their families to make these decisions” on do-not-resuscitate orders, Bonnen said.

The vast majority of Texas doctors don’t enter do-not-resuscitate orders without consulting patients, but that isn’t always the case, requiring the Legislature to step in, Bonnen said.

The Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association fear the legislation could open doctors and hospitals to lawsuits, particularly if they follow a patient’s stated wishes in chaotic emergency situations when there hasn’t been time to meet the bill’s requirements of getting written patient permission or finding the necessary witnesses.

Catholic hospitals and the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops have raised concerns that the do-not-resuscitate reform bills do not provide adequate conscience protections for health workers seeking to help patients with end-of-life care.

One proposal would let hospital ethics panels review do-not-resuscitate decisions, but that is opposed by Texas Right to Life, which argues that the review process has been abused in the past.

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, said adding review panels would unnecessarily muddy a bill that seeks to correct the narrow problem of “secret DNRs.” He also faulted Cook for taking a position that gives doctors and hospitals “all the power in the negotiations.”

Although the impasse has persisted despite hours of negotiations, Bonnen said he is banking on widespread support for his bill, which has 72 co-authors, to carry the day.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Hays County deputy injured, suspect killed in ambush, authorities say
Hays County deputy injured, suspect killed in ambush, authorities say

A gunman injured a Hays County sheriff’s deputy early Friday when he unleashed a hail of shotgun fire at law enforcement officers in Wimberley in what appeared to be an ambush, according to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler. Officers fired back and likely felled the suspected shooter, Rocky Miles West, a 26-year-old local man with a lengthy criminal...
1 killed in collision on MLK Jr. Blvd. in East Austin late Thursday
1 killed in collision on MLK Jr. Blvd. in East Austin late Thursday

EAST AUSTIN 1 killed in collision on MLK Jr. Blvd. A woman was killed in a collision on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in East Austin late Thursday, according to police. Authorities said two vehicles collided shortly before 10:40 p.m. near the intersection of MLK Jr. Boulevard and Temple Drive, just west of Springdale Road. A man and a woman, both...
What Central Texas has learned since devastating 2011 wildfire season
What Central Texas has learned since devastating 2011 wildfire season

Looking on as wildfires razed hundreds of thousands of acres in Northern California last month, Central Texas fire officials, no strangers to such disasters, said they remain ready for the next big, inevitable blaze. After all, Texas had its own wake-up call in 2011 after the Bastrop Complex Fire burned more than 34,000 acres and destroyed...
Court rejects defense lawyer Adam Reposa’s bid for early jail release
Court rejects defense lawyer Adam Reposa’s bid for early jail release

Denied bail as he serves six months in jail for contempt of court, Austin defense lawyer Adam Reposa could stay behind bars for most — if not all — of his sentence before he gets the chance to tell an appeals court that a judge botched his case. Reposa’s lawyer, Keith Hampton, said his client has been treated “uniquely&rdquo...
JUST IN: Small fire chars Iron Works barbecue joint; no injuries reported
JUST IN: Small fire chars Iron Works barbecue joint; no injuries reported

Austin fire officials said a heat source being too close to combustible materials caused a small fire at the Iron Works barbecue restaurant in downtown Austin on Friday. Firefighters initially reported a small fire in the wall of the restaurant, located at 100 Red River St., around 11:30 a.m., the Austin Fire Department said. Although the restaurant...
More Stories