Robert Cribb at the Toronto Star has been a diligent and articulate investigative reporter covering end-of-life medical treatment disputes. This week, he reports on a new lawsuit filed by the family of Canh Luong against Toronto East General Hospital.
94-year-old Luong was admitted to TEGH in September 2014. While clinicians recommended comfort measures, that plan was rejected by her family. But by October 2014, hospital physicians proceeded without family consent. Physician Alvin Chang transferred Luong from the ICU to a general ward of the hospital. And he wrote a DNR order without the family’s consent.
The case is remarkable for two reasons. First, after Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, many Canadian clinicians have become more deferential to family wishes.
Second, the lawsuit alleges that Dr. Chang did not even delay implementing the unilateral decision for a mere 24 hours to allow the family the opportunity to seek a court order or a transfer to another facility. A brief waiting period is a standard part of the dispute resolution procedures in hospital policies, in model medical society policies, and in state laws.
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