Hospital ordered to allow woman to die with dignity in Huelva

THE Junta de Andalucia Health Council forced a hospital in Huelva to remove a nasogastric tube from a patient in accordance with the ‘Dignified Death’ Law.

Ramona Estevez, 90, was admitted to the Blanca Paloma, a private hospital with funding from the Andalucian Health Service, on July 26 due to an apparently irreversible stroke. Her son requested that the nasogastric tube be removed because he didn’t want her “to become a machine”.

The ‘Dignified Death’ Law has been in force in Andalucia since March 2010 and regulates patients’ final days, limiting the treatment in patients who will not recover and banning hospitals from prolonging life “uselessly”.

Ramona had expressed her wish not to be kept alive artificially, so her son decided to bring a complaint against the Health Council and the Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Right to Live Association (DAV) is studying taking the Junta de Andalucia and the Health Councillor, Maria Jesus Montero, to court for “starving the patient to death”.

They explained they are looking in to the case to determine whether “illegal actions against fundamental rights included in the Penal Code” have been committed.

“Feeding a patient is basic care” they said, “and forcing a doctor to remove the tube violates their right to conscientious objection, plus it is possible that a crime of ‘non-assistance to a person in need’ has been committed”.

The association accuses the Junta de Andalucia of act “arbitrarily” and without knowing the prognosis of the patient, “leaving her to die of hunger” they said, “is not a dignified death”.

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