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PRO: Doctors should give input in discussion

By Keldy Ortiz
May 19, 2013 at 12:19 a.m.

Jeanne Hudgeons touches the face of her husband, Bill Sears, as her sister, Jan Carlson, of Indiana, listens to his chest with a stethoscope at the couple's Port Lavaca home on April 11. Carlson, a retired nurse, flew down to Texas to help her sister when she learned Sears was nearing his death. Sears and Hudgeons, after learning that he had pancreatic cancer, discussed that he did not want to be resuscitated. Sears died at home later that day.

Bill Sears' decision about what was best for him at the end of his life was his decision alone.

Still, when the 79-year-old died, his daughter, Billie Patterson sat beside him, caressing his hand and touching his head, letting him know it was OK to let go.

Sears died in April of pancreatic cancer.

Sears had spoken to his doctor only about his cancer and his options. He chose not to be resuscitated after learning just how grim the diagnosis was, his wife Jeanne Hudgeons, 73, said.

Senate Bill 303 supports this point to some degree, giving the doctors more power of authority to develop a case as to why medical treatment for the patient would be futile. This includes talks with patients.

"He told them he did not want to be sent to doctors all over the place," said Hudgeons, who lives in Port Lavaca. "He signed (papers with) hospice to regulate his care."

Hudgeons was happy her husband consulted with his doctor before making the final decision. Patterson accepted and respected her father's decision but had hoped the conversation could have been among family.

Sears' illness was sudden. His liver function had gone down severely in December, and while he needed more tests, he refused to get them done.

Dr. Ty Meyer, the medical director for Hospice of South Texas, is involved in end-of-life discussions and said he wants what is best for patients.

The conversation is never easy, he added.

"It's hard if there is a disagreement for the right way to proceed with how to care for the patient best," he said. "Our goal is to allow families to make a decision by laying out the pros and cons of the situation."

Dr. Richard Leggett, a Victoria physician, agreed with Meyer in that doctors and patients and families work together.

"Most of the time, you are working with the family to make sure that it is something that the patient and family are comfortable with," Leggett said. "Advance directives make decisions easier for the family and physician. If they (patients) don't have an advance directive, you try to communicate with the family such as the spouse or children."

Patterson, who lives in Seminole, said she knew her dad would make decisions he felt were best for him. She added that she is at peace, even though her father did not consult with the rest of the family.

"I already told him he won the battle and the next hands he would touch would be the Lord's," she said.

CON: Families find peace in honoring final wishes

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