Texas Senate Bill 303 – allows hospitals to impose “do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) orders against patients without their consent and even without their knowledge, passed the Texas Senate today despite opposition by the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) and by virtually every other leading pro-patient group.

Our Senator Glenn Hegar opposed this Bill. Here is a summary of what the bill does:

1. Allows hospitals to issue a “Do not attempt Resuscitation” (DNAR) and other power to impose denial-of-care directives, against patients without their consent and without even giving them written notice.
A. This would put the burden on the patient or family member to find out if the hospital plans to deny care.
B. The bill further makes a verbal objection by the patient or family member insufficient or not effective. This requires the patient or family member to file a written objection, and even then a hospital death panel can overrule the patient and/or families wishes and reject the objection refusing to abide by their wishes regarding their own family member.

2. Grants hospitals the power to withhold medical records from patients for five (5) days as time-sensitive life-or-death decisions are being made. This will create a situation whereby when you or your family need the information the most to make an informed decision, the hospital can refuse to provide you your own records.

3. Grants hospitals the right to deny the ability of independent patient advocates to speak on behalf of a patient and defend the patient’s interests, and instead limit patients to hospital-chosen patient advocates. The same hospital which denies you your records and issues a DNAR order over your objections gets to select who is going to speak on your behalf. Does anyone else see a problem with that?

4. Grants hospitals the power to create their own death panels, stacked with their own employees, to make “ethics” decisions to deny care to patients. Ok, they will probably call them something like medical ethical advisory panels or something similar, but again it is the same hospital which has the power to do 1-3.

5. Grants hospitals the power to transform physicians from being advocates of patient care into becoming adversaries of patients in implementing denial-of-care decisions based on hospital policies.

6. Limit patient options to a request for transfer of the patient to another hospital, at the patient’s own expense and without any guarantee that the other hospital would not also use this law against the patient. This ignores that tax-exempt hospitals have a duty to act in the best interests of patients rather than the self-enrichment of multi-million-dollar compensated hospital administrators. Also you have the issue of not being able to get the necessary medical records.

7. Grants hospitals complete immunity from legal accountability for denying care under most circumstances. You wouldn’t want to have the hospital having to answer to their actions in violating a patients or families rights and wishes regarding their care.

The bill does not establish a right to a second independent opinion; the second opinion which is discussed under this bill will typically be to another hospital employee controlled by hospital policy.

The end result of this bill would be to create death panels which would determine whether you or a family member lives or dies and prevents you from having access to the very medical records which would provide you information to make an informed decision. This bill is all about the profit over people.

Senator Hegar made the following response when asked why he voted against SB 303:
“This bill leaves potential for the burden to be placed on grieving families due to the subjectivity of the physicians.”

What are your thoughts about this bill?