Do-not-re­sus­ci­tate bill runs into se­ri­ous trou­ble in House,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Lin­dell clin­dell@states­man.com Con­tact Chuck Lin­dell at 512-912-2569. Twit­ter: @chuck­lin­dell

Ef­forts to re­quire spe­cific pa­tient ap­proval for hos­pi­tal do-not-re­sus­ci­tate or­ders foundered Tues­day, adding an­other of Gov. Greg Ab­bott’s pri­or­i­ties to the spe­cial ses­sion’s en­dan­gered list.

The chair­man of the House State Af­fairs Com­mit­tee abruptly can­celed Tues­day’s pub­lic hear­ing on a do-not-re­sus­ci­tate re­form bill, cit­ing a lack of con­sen­sus on key as­pects of House Bill 12 — dis­agree­ments that be­came ev­i­dent dur­ing a long and con­tentious closed-door meet­ing with in­ter­ested par­ties Mon­day.

“Right now, this bill is in a big mess,” said the com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. By­ron Cook, R-Cor­si­cana. “Can they pull it to­gether? They cer­tainly can, but I’ll be blunt, too. The meet­ing yes­ter­day was a good in­di­ca­tion that this bill has ma­jor pol­icy is­sues that have to be ad­dressed be­cause the is­sue it­self is too im­por­tant.”

With sev­eral pro­posed ver­sions of the bill float­ing around, it would have done lit­tle good to take pub­lic com­ment, he said.

“Un­til or un­less the ma­jor groups can come to­gether, we shouldn’t be pass­ing some­thing that is detri­men­tal to the cit­i­zens of this state, which is where we ap­pear to be headed,” Cook said.

With the 30-day ses­sion half over, the de­lay puts HB 12 — and an iden­ti­cal bill passed by the Se­nate — in jeop­ardy. But HB 12’s au­thor, Rep. Greg Bon­nen, a Friendswood Repub­li­can and neu­ro­sur­geon, said Tues­day that he was con­fi­dent the im­passe can be over­come.

“It’s a healthy process for peo­ple to voice their con­cerns and point out any po­ten­tial weak­nesses, and shore up those weak­nesses, while maintaining the goal of al­low­ing pa­tients and their fam­i­lies to make these de­ci­sions” on do-not-re­sus­ci­tate or­ders, Bon­nen said.

The vast ma­jor­ity of Texas doc­tors don’t en­ter do-not-re­sus­ci­tate or­ders with­out con­sult­ing pa­tients, but that isn’t al­ways the case, re­quir­ing the Leg­is­la­ture to step in, Bon­nen said.

The Texas Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion and Texas Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion fear the leg­is­la­tion could open doc­tors and hos­pi­tals to law­suits, par­tic­u­larly if they fol­low a pa­tient’s stated wishes in chaotic emer­gency sit­u­a­tions when there hasn’t been time to meet the bill’s re­quire­ments of get­ting writ­ten pa­tient per­mis­sion or find­ing the nec­es­sary wit­nesses.

Catholic hos­pi­tals and the Texas Catholic Con­fer­ence of Bish­ops have raised con­cerns that the do-not-re­sus­ci­tate re­form bills do not pro­vide ad­e­quate con­science pro­tec­tions for health work­ers seek­ing to help pa­tients with end-of-life care.

One pro­posal would let hos­pi­tal ethics pan­els re­view do-not-re­sus­ci­tate de­ci­sions, but that is op­posed by Texas Right to Life, which ar­gues that the re­view process has been abused in the past.

John Seago, leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor for Texas Right to Life, said adding re­view pan­els would un­nec­es­sar­ily muddy a bill that seeks to cor­rect the nar­row problem of “se­cret DNRs.” He also faulted Cook for tak­ing a po­si­tion that gives doc­tors and hos­pi­tals “all the power in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Al­though the im­passe has per­sisted de­spite hours of ne­go­ti­a­tions, Bon­nen said he is bank­ing on wide­spread sup­port for his bill, which has 72 co-au­thors, to carry the day.

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