National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
Dissing the Vulnerable "Friendless"
Mort Cohen, J.D.
While prisoners and the mentally ill have received some legal attention as to their constitutional rights regarding non-consensual medical care, residents of nursing homes and hospital patients have received far fewer benefits. California has passed a law permitting MD's to determine that nursing home patients need medical care, are incompetent, and have no surrogate, and then to treat after approval by a team including the same MD. The patient gets no notice, no hearing, no advocate, and no written decision. A court decision found there was no privacy right since the purpose was to provide necessary medical care. The "treatments" include both anti-psychotic drugs, and withdrawal of life support systems. The unrepresented and ill patient's only recourse, now having been found incompetent, is to bring a civil action and obtain a TRO. As well, the determination of incompetence results in loss of liberty to leave the facility, and control of assets.
I have brought an action challenging the statue, on privacy and due process grounds, and partially won in the trial court. The importance of the action is to preclude the total power of control over the sick and the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals. It will be discussed in the keynote.
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