Was Holocaust Survivor Euthanized at Holy Cross Hospital?
It leaves me heartbroken to think that my father was treated as an end-of-life patient due solely to his age – before finally being euthanized against his wishes at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. Israel Neustadter, peace be upon him, survived the horrors of Auschwitz only to succumb to the hubris of Holy Cross. My father carried no terminal condition, other than being 91 and about to turn 92. He lived at home and went to synagogue every day, relishing the brisk walk and the opportunity to worship. It was his first hospitalization, his first and only bout with pneumonia, he was full-code and he was recovering. My father surely deserved to have his wishes to fight for life – on his terms, and in accordance with his religious beliefs, honored.
According to the hospital lawyers, “Neither Dr. Kariya nor Dr. Weiner (pulmonologists under hospital contract) believed reintubation was in the patient’s best interests and accordingly never recommended this course of treatment for him.”
Absent catastrophic illness, end-stage cancer or pain, was it really in my father’s best interests to die? Wasn’t such misguided paternalism long ago replaced by patient autonomy and informed consent? What about adherence to state law & hospital policy? Perhaps for those reasons Holy Cross’s “Discharge Summary” falsely states that the doctors had a long conversation with me because my father needed intubation, and that I decided against it!
According to the hospital directors, “Nursing probably knew additional life support measures were not planned for your father and there was no action for them to take for a low pulse oximetry reading.”
In a setting that mandates detailed history taking, treatment plans laid out, progress notes meticulously written and DNR orders prominently displayed, do the words probably knew have any place?
Holy Cross recently opened a seniors emergency room replete with soothing colors, extra-thick mattresses and TVs tuned to the “relaxation channel” – but a senior about to be admitted would do well to be nervous and uncomfortable. Holy Cross Hospital was cited by the Office of Health Care Quality for failing to have the required certificate in my father’s chart before withholding treatment and allowing him to die. They’ve been cited for numerous other deficiencies as well.
Think it can’t happen to your mom or dad? Think again. Holy Cross’s willingness to play God with life-sustaining treatment, its tolerance of falsified records and the institutional bias against aggressive treatment evidenced by my father’s care, stand in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian values and pose a clear risk to Montgomery County’s burgeoning population of seniors. An elderly person could easily find himself with an insurmountable strike against him at Holy Cross Hospital. Like my dear father.
Please be careful with your very own loved ones.