Debate Magazine

Death Panel in Texas: Houston Methodist Hospital Consigns Man with No Insurance to Death

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

At the time when the Democrat-majority Congress was considering the misnamed Affordable Care Act, better and more appropriately known as Obamacare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said: “We have to pass it, to find out what’s in it.”

A physician called into a radio show and said: “That’s the definition of a stool sample.”

But what is happening to 46-year-old Chris Dunn, a former EMT and Homeland Security officer, is no joke.

Sara Gonzales reports for Red State, Dec. 7, 2015 that Dunn is fighting to stay alive, against a death panel at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, because despite indicating his wish to stay alive, the hospital plans to terminate his life.

In the video below, Chris’s family attorney asks him: “Chris, we’re trying to make sure the hospital will continue giving you good care. Do you want to stay alive?”

Unable to speak, Chris answers by nodding his head and placing his hands together in prayer and supplication.

In August 2015, Dunn went to Urgent Care for severe abdominal pain. A CAT scan was performed, which found a mass on his pancreas.

Dunn is uninsured and has applied for a Harris County Gold card (Medicare), which would provide him with subsidized health insurance to pay for a biopsy of the mass which would enable doctors to make a diagnosis. In the meantime, Dunn began vomiting blood and became so ill he was rushed to the emergency room and admitted to a small hospital in Pasadena, Texas on October 12.

Dunn was stabilized and put on a ventilator at Pasadena, but the hospital would not inform his family why the ventilator was necessary or if there was another option. Once stable, Dunn was transferred to Houston Methodist Hospital because the local facility simply could not accommodate the level of care he needed.

Dunn’s mother, Evelyn Kelly, said her son has fluid constantly building up in his abdomen and the mass in his pancreas is squeezing his small intestine, which affects his liver and kidneys. The family has asked for a procedure to put in a drain to allow the fluid building up in his abdomen to drain by itself, but the doctors reportedly refused, stating that the drain could become infected and was not worth the risk.

Dunn’s sister Holly said her brother has been on the ventilator for eight weeks now, although a pulmonary technician candidly had advised her mother they shouldn’t have the ventilator in longer than three weeks. When Evelyn asked one of Dunn’s doctors about performing a tracheostomy to remove the ventilator and allow Dunn to breathe, the doctor refused.

But the ventilator has been in for so long, Dunn can no longer breathe without it, even though his lung function was never the problem.

In a meeting shortly after arriving at Houston Methodist, the hospital staff told Dunn’s family that he was in systemic organ failure and would die within 2 to 3 weeks. Dunn has now been there 8 weeks with no additional explanation being offered.

It gets worse.

Doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital are treating this case as an end-of-life treatment due to cancer — a diagnosis that is a death sentence for Dunn, although:

  1. The doctors have no conclusive evidence that the mass on Dunn’s pancreas is cancerous.
  2. The hospital has not asked an oncologist to examine Dunn, his lab work and imaging, so as to confirm a cancer diagnosis.
  3. According to Evelyn, the hospital has conducted tests on Dunn’s blood and fluid multiple times. Each time, the result was no positive markers for cancer.

What happened next was shocking: Evelyn said 11 hospital employees, including lawyers, marched into her son’s hospital room and handed her a notice explaining their plans to end life-sustaining treatment, invoking the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), a law enacted in Texas in 1999 while George W. Bush was governor.

Under TADA, if a hospital or physician decides for any reason they disagree with a patient about his/her medical care, the medical provider may invoke TADA and override the patient or family’s decision about their medical treatment. TADA does not even require the medical provider to give a reason for their decision, specifically whether the decision is financial, i.e., to continue providing care to the patient would be cost-prohibitive for the hospital.  All that TADA requires the medical provider to do is serve the patient or patient’s representative with 10-day notice.

Evelyn contacted Texas Right to Life, who helped her file the necessary paperwork to request an extension with the courts. So far, a judge has granted her a 2-week extension to keep her son from being murdered.

But Houston Methodist Hospital countered the judicial extension with a lawsuit on December 5 to remove Evelyn as Dunn’s power of attorney, and place that power into a third party’s hands. The hospital also brought a psychiatrist to interview Dunn, mere hours after he had a procedure that required high doses of pain medicine, which rendered him unable to effectively communicate. His sister Holly believes the timing of the psychiatrist’s visit was deliberate so as to facilitate a diagnosis that Dunn is incoherent and unable to make decisions for himself.

If the hospital gets its way, Evelyn says they will unplug Dunn’s ventilator, administer a drug to make him “more comfortable”. Dunn will die within 3 to 4 minutes due to the fact that his lungs have been on the ventilator so long they are not strong enough to breathe on their own.

Dunn’s family goes back to court on December 16th, when a judge will determine what happens next, and whether or not Dunn has a right to the medical care he has pleaded for.

Chris Dunn

If anyone is able to make a donation to Chris Dunn’s medical expenses, please visit:

H/t FOTM‘s Lana


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