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Hospital’s Bid to Perform Leg Amputation Upheld

A reminder why it’s so important to designate a health care proxy for yourself

A Brooklyn appellate panel said doctors at North Shore LIJ/Forest Hills Hospital adequately showed they had to perform a leg amputation on a woman with mental health issues, despite her objections.

The hospital petitioned for court permission to perform the below-the-knee amputation for a woman identified as “Marietta Mc.”

On Feb. 2, The Appellate Division, Second Department, upheld a lower court’s grant of permission, saying the hospital “established by clear and convincing evidence that the appellant lacked ‘the capacity to make a reasoned decision’ with respect to the proposed medical treatment.”

The panel said that the testimony presented before Queens Supreme Court Justice Thomas Raffaele established that Marietta, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, “lacked the capacity to understand the nature or severity of her medical condition, or the severe consequences that would likely result if the condition were left untreated.”

Our law firm is always preaching to our clients about the importance of drafting a Will, as well as designating a Health Care Proxy. The Proxy is given the power to make health care decisions for you if you are even sick or in an accident and unable to make informed decisions for yourself. Theoretically, when you designate a spouse, sibling or friend to be your Proxy, you have a conversation with that person wherein you make it clear what end-of-life medical decisions you would make if you were conscious and able to articulate them to medical personnel. 

We have represented dozens of seriously injured people who were unconscious after a fall at a construction site or following an automobile accident. We have witnessed family members fight over end-of-life medical decisions when no Proxy has been chosen by the injured patient. It is always preferable to designate someone you trust who will follow your wishes.  

Unfortunately, the woman at Forest Hills Hospital had not chosen a Health Care Proxy to speak for her. As a result, her family was split and her case ended up in court with a panel of three strange judges making the decision for her. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson to speak to an experienced New York personal injury lawyer today.

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