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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Ind. Courts - "Judge refuses to order review of dying man's care"
A judge has denied a request to have an independent guardian review the condition of Paul G. Smith, the retired attorney and former Hamilton County court magistrate at the center of a bitter family battle for control of his care.
More than two months have passed since doctors at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital began providing Smith “end-of-life” care after a physician determined he was likely to die within a day because of multiple organ failure.
That decision led care providers to remove Smith, 88, from the ventilator that was helping ease his labored breathing and temporarily cut off food and water.
The care plan also ignited a legal fight between Smith’s daughter and longtime caregiver, Susan Rissman, and another of Smith’s daughters, Judith Sly, who has legal control over their father’s care and finances. Rissman disagreed with the approach to her father’s treatment directed by Sly and St. Vincent.
In a ruling filed Tuesday, Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation denied Rissman’s request to have an independent, court-appointed guardian review Smith’s care and condition and report to the court. * * *
It is an approach, hospital officials and doctors insisted, that follows wishes Smith set out in a living will he signed in 2004. The document states he does not want life-prolonging procedures if they only serve to artificially extend the dying process.
But after more than five weeks had passed and Smith’s condition appeared to be improving — to the point where he reportedly was receiving some solid foods and drinking Pepsi from a can — Rissman’s attorney filed the request for a review of his condition and care.
Nation previously denied two other requests filed by Rissman’s attorney, Tim Stoesz, to intervene in Smith’s care.
The judge ruled both times that the living will is valid and adequate for directing Smith’s treatment.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 14, 2013 09:00 AM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions