TMA NEWS RELEASE
Physicians Support Deuell Bill to Help Patients in Their Final Days (SB 303)
Jan. 31, 2013
“The physicians of Texas thank and congratulate Sen. Robert Deuell, MD, for bringing together a broad coalition in support of some needed changes in a law that protects patients at the end of life,” said Arlo Weltge, MD, an emergency medicine physician in Houston and a member of the Texas Medical Association’s end-of-life workgroup.
“As physicians, our job is to act in the best interest of the patient, but with the ethical responsibility of not doing any intentional harm. That responsibility does not end just because a patient is nearing his or her final days. We need a law that is nuanced enough to recognize that there are very different contexts in which these decisions are made.
“The Texas Advance Directives Act was a good law when then-Gov. George W. Bush signed it in 1997, and it’s a good law today. Its aim is to allow patients to make their care preferences known before they need care and to protect patients from discomfort, pain, and suffering due to excessive medical intervention in the dying process.
“Although this law is rarely used, we recognize the need for some updates that can help patients and their families in these difficult moments. Senator Deuell’s bill is an excellent starting point for the discussions we need to have on those improvements.
“I want to emphasize, however, that those changes should not include government interference in the trusted patient-physician relationship that would require a physician to provide potentially unethical, medically inappropriate services to our patients. Just as a physician should not be forced to perform an abortion, so a physician should not be required to misuse medical technology to prolong dying.
“As filed, this bill would maintain protection of physicians against forcing them to violate their own religious beliefs, moral conscience, and professional ethics.”
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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Read more: "Difficult Choices: TMA seeks balanced end-of-life debate," from the February 2013 issue of Texas Medicine.
Contact: Steve Levine
phone: (512) 370-1380
cell: (512) 750-0971
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