Earlier this year, a Boston woman’s long life ended in a manner that completely contradicted her clearly stated intentions. The octogenarian was a victim of a medical kidnapping.
A disgruntled family member who was not involved in the decisions affecting the woman’s health care made a complaint to Central Elder Services, alleging abuse. This resulted in the woman being taken into the custody of a guardianship and given anti-psychotic drugs against her will.
In the span of just three months, she went from being a vibrant senior citizen who enjoyed outings with her daughter and who had never been diagnosed with dementia to an insensate, bed-bound patient. Then she died.
This would be startling if it were an isolated occurrence. That it has become relatively common is unfathomable.
How can this happen?
It often begins with a phone call that starts the wheels in motion and lands an individual in “the system” from which there is no exit. Anyone who is under a guardianship is stripped of all of their rights. Even when the person was diligent and drafted a comprehensive estate plan that included naming a medical proxy, the guardian’s decisions are all that matters once it gets to that point.
Legalities aside, there are issues of malpractice involved in drugging a person unnecessarily. Chemical restraints are every bit as cruel as physical restraints used on hospital patients.
In the case of the Boston woman, her decline was rapid once Elder Services became involved. Attorneys forced her admission into a nursing home. Then they sought and obtained an order from the court mandating her to be treated with strong anti-psychotic drugs with no prior diagnosis of dementia.
Despite enjoying good health prior to being medically kidnapped and drugged against her will, after three months of sedation and being confined to a hospital bed, she quickly developed pneumonia. After her doctors only gave her two or three doses of antibiotics, they stopped treating her illness and put her in hospice care. She was deprived of intravenous fluids and nutrition, and instead, placed on morphine for “back pain and to help slow down her breathing.”
The woman’s advance medical directive was done not even a year prior to her kidnapping and stated specifically that she wanted IV hydration as end-of-life care.
If your relative suffered something similar, know that there is legal recourse available for negligence and medical malpractice.