A Black disabled man died from COVID-19 in Austin, Texas, after doctors declined to provide hydration, nutrition and treatment based on a “quality of life” decision. Disability advocates highlighted that the discriminatory attitudes behind these “quality of life” decisions are rampant — and dangerous.
Michael Hickson, who was married and had five children, was hospitalized for COVID-19 on June 2 at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in Texas. According to the Texan, Hickson had a brain injury and was a quadriplegic following a 2017 heart attack. He was living at the skilled nursing facility Brush Country when he was admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. By June 3 he was in the intensive care unit.
A few days later, Hickson was unexpectedly removed out of ICU. Hickson’s wife, Melissa, was told he was stable and breathing on his own but had been transferred to hospice care. While initially Melissa was told Hickson would still receive fluids and nutrition through his percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube, the hospital withheld all care…
Typically, triage policies that assist doctors in making difficult decisions about how to prioritize care with limited resources are only enacted when a hospital is at capacity. Not Yet Dead, a grassroots disability organization against assisted suicide, pointed out that it’s unclear why Hickson’s doctors used triage policies in this case. There’s no indication St. David’s South Austin Medical Center was at capacity.
But triage policies are already inherently ableist.
On Wednesday, Arizona enacted its Crisis Standards of Care, which involves a scoring system to determine which patients should be prioritized for treatment. Based on Arizona’s standards, people with pre-existing health conditions, disabilities and seniors are deprioritized based on the length and quality of life determination, as estimated by medical doctors. These guidelines violate civil rights protections for people with disabilities.
“The Crisis Standards of Care (CSCs) activated in Arizona should be revised immediately and brought into compliance with civil rights protections that bar discrimination on the basis of age or disability,” Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, said in a statement. “Faulty prognoses only increase the chances that people with disabilities, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups will not receive equal care if they become sick because their perceived quality and length of life may be less than others.”
Read more at Yahoo News…