The Terrible Case of Jahi McMath

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Jahi McMath is a 13-year-old girl who has been declared brain dead after experiencing complications following a tonsillectomy at Children’s Hospital in Oakland.  The family did not understand what brain dead means.  They then got a lawyer who ordered the hospital to keep Jahi on a ventilator until further order from the court.

These are the cases than no one wants to be involved in.  It is a horrible situation even for the hospital to be involved with.  The family is devastated.  I am sure the doctors are devastated.  It is a no-win situation for everyone.

I am not going to debate brain death versus coma here.  I just want to bring up the point about “death panels”.  This is a  conservative lightening rod, usually propagated by Sarah Palin.   She, like a lot of things she talks about, is wrong.

Who decides when enough is enough?  Someone has to. The cost of care, especially at the end of life, is extraordinary.  There has to be limitations on the resources.  There also has to be consistency.  We just can let the media and lawyers change things for one family because they don’t understand what brain dead means.   Should a 90+ year old with severe dementia be allowed to stay alive via a ventilator?  Well, she was.  True story.

To update this story, Jahi’s case has been decided and the judge also agreed that she is brain dead.  Now the family wants her moved to another facility.   I know this sounds harsh but would they feel the same way if they had to pay?

Someone has to pay for this healthcare mess.  Actually, ALL of us should have to pay something.  Then the real ethical debate can happen and in that debate there actually has to be a discussion about appropriation of funds.  Someone has to bring it up whether Sarah Palin or the McMath family likes it or not.

 

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