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End-of-life lawsuit strikes at Stanford protocols

Original post made on Mar 7, 2008

Stanford Hospital & Clinics is attempting to get a lawsuit on end-of-life care thrown out of court. But a Palo Alto family's attorney threw the hospital's own policies and procedures back at the hospital during a Santa Clara County Superior Court hearing Tuesday, alleging that the hospital failed to follow them.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 6, 2008, 4:49 PM

Comments (12)

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2008 at 12:35 pm

f..y.i. there is no such thing at stanford as an "end of life" nursing

unit......


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Posted by Joan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 7, 2008 at 1:31 pm

I found this article very interesting. Recently, while in Stanford Hospital I found myself sharing a room with another patient. She had a full time nurse by her bed monitoring her vital signs. During the night there was a huge emergency as hospital staff rushed in and attempted to keep her alive.

The following morning she was moved out of our shared room. I found out later I was placed in that room with this seriously ill patient because Stanford was so short of rooms.

I look at this case from the point of view of the other patient sharing the room. Fortunately, Stanford's proposed new hospital is to be built with single occupancy rooms - a great improvement when you are dealing with dying patients in shared rooms.




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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

This is just a case of yet another greedy plaintiff attorney grandstanding for the media.


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Posted by Jerry H.
a resident of Woodside
on Mar 9, 2008 at 11:54 am

This is, in fact, "outrageous," and "an attitude adjustment" is the very least Stanford Hospital evidently needs imposed upon it. And what's this about the hospital having no duty to the family? Can Stanford's attorney be serious? What happens when a patient is unconscious and cannot communicate his/her wishes? In such a case, there is no fulfillment of duty without the family. Perhaps I'm wrong; perhaps studying bird entrails, crystal balls, or the position of the planets are better means of ascertaining a patient's needs. Here's an idea, Stanford: since it is an apparently arbitrary process why not just flip a coin? You could then be sure you're getting it right at least 50% of the time.


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Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Mar 9, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Call it what you will, but there is in deed an "end of life" ward at Stanford. They may not call it that, but there is a place where people with little hope are placed in - there's no secret here with anyone who has had a family member termanily ill at Stanford.

-oh, and it is most definitely a family decision when a patient is placed there.


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Posted by Joan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 9, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Stanford doesn't need this nuisance lawsuit. I noticed when they removed the critically ill patient I shared a room with to the IC unit (intensive care); they were meticulous about making sure all her belongings were moved with her.

It was obvious to me these decisions must often be made at short notice. And, the comfort of the other patient in the room must also be taken into consideration.

From what I observed, I hope I die at home.


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Posted by T.G.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2008 at 7:26 am

I've been received treatment at Stanford Hospital, and had family receive end of life care there as well. The care has always been generous, conscientious, kind, and even more than I had hoped for. That kind of treatment doesn't sound like any good hospital much less Stanford. There are at least 2 sides to every story. I find this is especially true in emotional situations, and I am extra suspicious about the real truth when the complaints in the story are coming from a politician or , in this case, from an attorney looking for a multi-million dollar judgment.


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Posted by T.G.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2008 at 7:41 am

Jerry H. I notice how quick you are to condemn the hospital and their treatment on what someone looking for a truckload of money claims. You say "can Stanford's attorney be serious?" in regards to the comment that health care providers do not have a duty to a patient's family. If that attorney said that why isn't it in quotes like the other statements. It sounds out of context to me. Of course they consider and consult with the family in these type of situations. I know they did with compassion and care with mine. These type of suits raise healthcare prices for my family and yours, and the money spent defending these lottery ticket mentality cases is money that could be spent making the hospital facilities and level of care even higher. Just my 2 cents more.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2008 at 3:40 pm

There seems to be alot of denial here that Stanford could be capable of making a mistake - that because an attorney represents the plantiffs it must be one big money grab.

Wake up people, Stanford has alot of excellent resources, but it also has an incredible amount of interns that revolve around their patients. The body did get lost as the story says!

Don't be so naive as to think Stanford didn't screw up because they do it alot more than they would want the public to know.
Web Link


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Posted by Jerry H.
a resident of Woodside
on Mar 10, 2008 at 6:45 pm

T.G., I have based my opinion of this case on a previously published article in this journal and the article above. Since in both instances attorneys for each party have a chance to comment and because I do not believe Palo Alto Weekly journalists work for plaintiffs' attorneys, I have come to the conclusion that Stanford is, in fact, attempting to avoid responsibility for negligent behavior. A mistake is one thing, but the number of mistakes Peter Allen was made to suffer indicate a pattern of operation well below anything I would ever want me or my family to experience—anybody to experience, for that matter. You state, T.G., that "Of course they consider and consult with the family in these types of situations." Evidently not. Evidently such policy is not actually a matter of course over at Stanford hosptial. That is what this case is all about. Remember too, that the hospital was to set the standard for end-of-life care around the country. Is this the standard you would have all other hospitals follow, truly? This would be like looking to our current federal government as the standard for democracy around the globe.

Is litigation the best answer? In a perfect world it is not. But in this world how do we maintain the accountability of our institutions when they fail us so at the human level? And what do we do about the losses people like the Allens suffer? Should we just shrug it all off, chalk it up to experience, and cross our fingers in the hope that these institutions will make the necessary changes for the future? "If men were angels," to borrow from Madison, "neither external nor internal controls...would be necessary" Since they are not, we need checks and balances. At this stage in our collective development, T.G., those checks and balances come via our courts.


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Posted by Loren
a resident of Woodside
on Mar 11, 2008 at 9:41 am

I've experienced having a famliy member at Stanford and found the experience to be really hit and miss with the attention to detail and overall care. Some of the staff can be totally professional and compasionate while others can be somewhat clueless and in a hurry. My family was at the hospital enough to see many residents, interns, technicians, nurses,.....come and go. It really doesn't take much effort or lack of it to deal someone's condition a severe setback.

We couldn't be there 24/7 to see how everything worked, but were there enough to know it's far from perfect. It's not unreasonable to think some negligence could happen at Stanford. Is it worth taking to court? If Stanford wants the case to be "thrown out" and the attorney is seeking millions, perhaps there is some middle ground, perhaps the attention to detail could be improved.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Let me just say, as a nurse with many years of experience in hospitals, there is a lot going on behind the doors that patients and families don't realize. I tell my friends and loved ones to take someone with them to keep their eyes open when they (the patient) sleeps. Not all health care providers actually "care". Standards of practice exist as a reference for best practice and often the care-givers don't have a clue as to how they fit into their role or how to access them. I've chosen to submit this anonymously so that I can speak the truth: there is a nursing shortage and sadly the nurses entering the field do not get the clinical training to do the job! And the work ethic - where did that disappear to ?


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