A paralyzed patient died of the new coronavirus after a Texas hospital stopped treating him.
In early June, 46-year-old Michael Hickson was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center after contracting COVID-19 and pneumonia at the nursing home where he lived.
Shortly after arrival, a doctor told Hickson’s wife, Melissa, that he did not think the treatment would improve her husband’s quality of life because of his disability.
He was first transferred to St. David’s for six days, and Hickson died on June 11.
Michael Hickson, 46 (left and right), from Austin, Texas, a paralytic, contracted coronavirus and pneumonia at the nursing home where he lived. He was transferred to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center for treatment
In two recorded conversations, a doctor told Hickson’s wife, Melissa, that he didn’t believe treatment would improve Hickson’s quality of life. In the photo: Hickson with his family
Melissa recorded two conversations she had with her husband’s doctor and posted them up YouTube.
‘Shall [treatment] affect its quality? Will it improve his quality of life? the doctor tells her.
“And the answer is no.”
Melissa is heard asking, “Why not? Can life not improve the quality of life? ‘
“There is no improvement with being intubated, with a lot of lines and tubes in your body and more than two weeks of ventilation,” the doctor replies.
In the recorded video, the doctor told Melissa that patients treated with a drug “walked and talked”, unlike her husband.
She said KVUE that her conversation with medical staff surprised her.
“The reason we go to hospitals is to get treatment, and it’s not based on the scale of whether or not you’re disabled or anything else,” she said.
“It is only to be saved and for treatment.”
St. David’s medical director denies that Hickson’s paralysis or disabilities played a role in the hospital’s decision to discontinue treatment.
The doctor added that a drug given to other patients was for those who were “walking and talking.” On June 11, six days after arriving in St David’s, Hickson died of COVID-19. In the photo: Hickson
“Every clinical decision made for him was made as part of a multidisciplinary team that included his caregiver, who was his surrogate family by law,” Dr. DeVry Anderson at KVUE.
The caregiver was an agency called Family Eldercare, appointed by the court after fighting between Hickson’s wife and his sister for safekeeping.
“Mr. Hickson’s husband, family, and medical community agreed with the decision not to intubate Mr. Hickson,” Family Eldercare said in a statement.
“As a Guardian, in consultation with Mr. Hickson’s family and health care providers, we agreed to the recommendation for hospice care so that in a caring environment, Mr. Hickson could be provided with comfort, nutrition, and medicines at the end of life.
Ethics and rights activists for people with disabilities say there has been shock at Hickson’s alleged treatment.
“When you say quality of life, it’s completely subjective and the point is whether I think this person deserves to live or not to live,” Kimberlyn Schwartz, a Texas Right to Life representative, told KVUE.
“And frankly, it’s best to leave those decisions to the patient and his family.”
In the US, there are more than 2.7 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 128,000 deaths.