#1- You are caring for a 30 year-old Hispanic male with a long-term partner and two small
children, who was admitted to the sub-acute rehabilitation unit in a vegetative state
following a ruptured brain aneurysm four months ago. He has not regained consciousness
since his “stroke” and has minimal brain activity documented by EEG tracings. He has
no response to voice, sight or pain and no gag or swallow reflex.
He previously expressed his wishes to his partner about meaningful life telling her that he
would not want to be kept alive if he could not participate in life. Unfortunately, he
never put these wishes in an Advance Directive and has not discussed his wishes with his
parents, who are devout Catholics.
A conference was held with his parents and his partner to discuss withdrawing tube
feedings and fluids. His parents are very upset and direct their anger to his partner and
the nursing staff. The father quotes the commandment “thou shalt not kill” and believes
that withdrawing food and fluids would be murder. The mother expresses anger with the
medical staff saying that “medical technology has interfered with God’s plan” and there
is no choice except to continue with the treatment. His partner, who is 4 ? months
pregnant only cries and says everything is her fault.
__1. Who has the legal right to make decisions about his care?
__2. What assumptions do you have about this type of situation?
__3. Put yourself in the position of the people in the situation (partner, father, mother) and respond to the situation from their point of view. What would your decision be if you were the partner? Mother? Father?
__4. What other health care professionals would you use as resources in this situation?
__5. List three possible options for this family to come to resolution on the issues in this case?
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