What should be done if someone was taken off life support against their wishes?

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What should be done if someone was taken off life support against their wishes?

A friend of mine had an elderly friend who was terminally ill but coherent. A relative, and presumably a doctor, decided to turn-off/remove his ICD even though he said he didn’t want it to happen. He is dead now. I think this sounds extremely illegal. Who should my friend go to concerning this?

Asked on April 10, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your friend doesn't have standing to sue so really it would be others members of the family who would have standing to sue for wrongful death. If you don't know the facts entirely, be careful who your friend goes to to discuss this matter; your friend certainly doesn't wish to be placed in a situation where he or she would be sued for defamation or false allegations. If you don't know if the relative is a doctor or even if the relative is a doctor but you don't know whether or not he or she has a medical power of attorney or medical directive, be careful and tread lightly. Your friend could discuss the matter with family if he or she is close to them to verify if the relative had a medical directive or if the person who passed did change his or her mind. If your friend is concerned about speaking to the family, consider speaking with police but again, tread lightly. Or if the relative is indeed a doctor, consider filing something with the medical board, perhaps an anonymous tip.


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