Bills Would Require Life-Preserving Treatments

Apr 2, 2013

Twin bills, entitled the Nondiscrimination in Treatment Act, have passed in the House and Senate and moved to committee in the opposite chambers.

The measures would require healthcare professionals to provide life-preserving treatments to any patient regardless of whether they’re elderly, disabled, or terminally ill.

“This is outside the fact that whether or not these are medically feasible, or in the benefit of the patients,” said Dr. Jennifer Clark, Division Director of Palliative Medicine at the OU School of Community Medicine, “and therefore physicians will be basically asked to violate their Hippocratic Oath of, ‘First, do no harm.’”

She says the measure would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

“It requires a significant amount of time, and a significant amount of trust, and if we have a law that invades that relationship, it degrades it,” Clark said.

She says the added possibility of a legal injunction would remove the collaborative aspect of medical decisions between doctors, patients and their families.

The House version of the bill was heard in the Senate Health and Human Services committee Monday, but was sent back to the House for reconsideration.

Clark was one of several health professionals to give public comment against the bill during its committee hearing.

The House Long-term Care and Senior Services Committee hears the bill Tuesday morning.