Case Studies


CASE 1: Watch this brief case study:
She outlines the ethical issues and the options. Are there additional issues and options that should be considered?
What do you believe are the arguments for and against each option?
How would you assess the outcomes?
What are your thoughts on this case?
CASE 2: Court to rule on removal of feeding tube
Thursday, April 20, 2006
By John Agar
Gazette News Service
ALLEGAN — In Allegan General Hospital’s critical-care unit, a 97-year-old heart-attack victim, with failing kidneys and dementia, is kept alive by a feeding tube and ventilator. Despite her having virtually ”no chance of meaningful recovery,” according to court documents, the hospital provides thorough, expensive care. If she has another heart attack, doctors will pull out all stops to save her life. One of Hazel Wagner’s doctors says she should be allowed to die. But as in other right-to-die cases, a judge will decide the woman’s fate. The case weighs heavily on Dr. Brian Drozdowski and other hospital staff. ”The sanctity of human life is basically the core issue here,” he said. ”Is this right for the patient? For most people here who take care of her, it’s a struggle just to walk in her room.” A hospital source, who didn’t want to be identified, said the woman pushes away medical workers, saying, ”I want to die. I want (tubes) out. Help me.” Wagner was listed in stable condition this morning in the hospital’s critical-care unit. Drozdowski, citing privacy laws, would not provide information about the patient. In an interview, he spoke in general about such situations. But he recently filed a petition in Van Buren County Probate Court asking to cease heroic efforts to keep Wagner alive, court records showed. He asked that her ”full code” status be changed to respite care, with her breathing tube removed, tube feedings stopped and measures taken to make Wagner comfortable. He says it’s unethical to keep her alive against her will in her current condition. Wagner apparently did not tell anyone whether she would want extraordinary measures taken to keep her alive. Court records show she isn’t married, has no children, and has only one surviving relative, a nephew in Kalamazoo, who could not be reached for comment. Van Buren Probate Judge Frank Willis is considering Drozdowski’s request, which was filed in Van Buren County, where Wagner lived. The judge previously ruled against a hospital that wanted to withhold extreme measures from a seriously ill patient. He based his decision on a ruling by then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, who wrote: ”Only adults of sound mind may execute a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, and may do so only on their own behalf. … The Legislature has not authorized a guardian to sign a DNR order on behalf of his or her ward.”
What are the ethical issues?
What options could have been (or possibly were) considered to address the dilemma?
What are your thoughts on the final outcome of this case?