Bouvia V. Superior Court

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1.3 Bouvia v. Superior Court Dawnyel Donaldson Franklin University Healthcare Law and Ethics HCM742-H1WW (F14) Julia Matthews JD/MPH November 13, 2014 The case of Elizabeth Bouvia v. Superior Court is a well-known case in the patient’s right to refuse treatment. Elizabeth Bouvia was born with cerebral palsy, which worsened, as she grew older and subsequently caused her to become a quadriplegic. She additionally developed severe degenerative arthritis that caused her to be in continuous unbearable pain. At the age of twenty-eight her condition had worsened to the point that she was said to be bed ridden and completely dependent on others for her activities of daily living. Although she had many physical challenges she was a…show more content…
The Superior Court of Los Angeles County became a pivotal case in a patient’s right to refuse treatment. In the initial case Ms. Bouvia and her legal team sought a court order to have the NGT removed and to stop all medical treatments she did not consent to. She argued that this treatment would not be a cure for her condition and would not improve her quality of life. The hospital staff argued the interest of the state prevailed over a patient’s right to refuse treatment. They noted that the state and healthcare teams viable interests include: “(1) preserving life, (2) preventing suicide, (3) protecting innocent third parties, and (4) maintaining the ethical standards of the medical profession, including supporting the right of physicians to effectively render necessary and appropriate medical services” (Liang & Lin, 2005). Additionally they sighted Ms. Bouvia’s failed previous attempt to “starve herself to death” in 1983 with the assistance of her medical team. The court denied her request citing these key interests and the fact that medical professionals felt that Ms. Bouvia could live 15-20 additional years with supplemental nutrition justified the state’s interest in preserving her life. The court also stated that any other decision would be condoning a medical team to aid and abet suicide. Immediately after the decision Ms. Bouvia filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the California Court of Appeals to have the NGT removed immediately and

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