Is the Michigan Legislature Considering Death Panels?
On June 11, 2013, the Lansing State Journal published a guest editorial from Elmer L. Cerano, Executive Director of Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc regarding several bills pending in the Michigan Legislature. The package of bills would give guardians the authority to sign “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” orders for individuals with disabilities. Read Mr. Cerano's letter about this dangerous legislation!
Guest Editorial Lansing State Journal
120 E. Lenawee Street
Lansing, MI 48919
"Death Panels" .... but this time a panel of one.. .. again rearing its ugly head supported by those who cautioned against it in the past.
Several bills are pending in the Michigan Legislature that, if passed , will expand the role and the authority of Michigan guardianship laws. The bills, as written, will allow guardians to invoke a "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" (DNR) order for a certain group of individuals with disabilities who can not communicate their wishes. This is a very dangerous first step that will allow individual and corporate guardians the authority to prohibit CPR resuscitation of people with disabilities.
Here are the problems:
1. Some guardians, primarily court appointed public guardians, have no prior knowledge of the individual or any type of substantial relationship with the incapacitated person. We do not believe that such a person should be allowed to make decisions of this magnitude on behalf of someone they hardly know.
2. These bills, as written, do not take into account the physical health status of the patient. As result, a perfectly healthy individual could be stripped of a long life due to the decision making of a person who very well might be a stranger.
3. It allows guardians who may be inconvenienced by ... or who may financially benefit from the patients death, to decide whether or not to resuscitate.
As an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, I can envision a scenario where a person with disabilities, who has been determined to be in need of a guardian and is unable to communicate through conventional means, could fall ill due to a bacterial infection or some ailment like pneumonia (both not uncommon in a nursing home environment). Under the circumstance that these bills are passed, if such a person was to go into pulmonary and cardiac arrest as a result of the progression of what are treatable and temporary illnesses, the guardian could invoke a DNR order, ending the patients' life far too soon.
Although I fully agree that people with or without disabilities should have the right to establish a DNR order for themselves , we can not allow other people or corporations , who stand to benefit from the patient's demise to authorize such an order. To grant this authority to anyone, other than the patient him/herself , would resurface charges of the creation of "death panels" but this time the panel may be a panel of one person --- and that person could be a stranger.
Elmer L. Cerano
Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.
4095 Legacy Pkwy, Ste 500
Lansing, MI 48911