Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ADAPT of Texas Protests Hospital Killing of Michael Hickson, A Black Disabled Man

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on June 29, 2020

ADAPT of Texas members protested on June 28th in front of St. David’s Hospital in Austin where they refused treatment and starved to death Michael Hickson, a black disabled man who died on June 11th, 2020.

ADAPT of Texas reported that Michael Hickson was a quadriplegic with a brain injury who was refused treatment for COVID 19 that he acquired in a local nursing home.

A pro-life media outlet reported on Mr. Hickson’s story, including a video of his recovery as he progressed over time, and an audio recording of a doctor explaining the hospital’s decision not to treat him for COVID-19.

. . . Hickson became a quadriplegic in May 2017 after going into sudden cardiac arrest while driving his wife Melissa to work. He received CPR but suffered an anoxic brain injury from the loss of oxygen to his brain. Since that time, he has been conscious and alert, responding to jokes, laughing, shaking his head, singing, and puckering his lips when his wife asked for a kiss over FaceTime. See the video below:

Then in 2020, he contracted COVID-19 from a staff member in his nursing home and developed pneumonia. He was hospitalized at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, but doctors there refused to treat him, allowing him to die.

In a recorded conversation between the doctor and Melissa, she was told that he would not receive treatment due to his disability:

Doctor: So as of right now, his quality of life — he doesn’t have much of one.

Melissa: What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury he doesn’t have quality of life?

Doctor: Correct.
A five-minute recording of the conversation is here:

The doctor seems to invoke the infamous Texas futility law, aka the “10-day-rule”, which allows doctors to involuntarily withdraw life-sustaining treatment after giving ten days notice. But it’s not clear how long Mr. Hickson was in the hospital. There’s no indication that even the minimal requirements of the futility law were met. Even if they used a hospital “ethics” committee, it’s highly unlikely that it included any disability rights advocates. (A problem we can all work to address – nothing about us without us!)

There’s also no indication that Austin hospitals had entered a period of shortages that would have triggered COVID-19 triage policies. Even if resource shortages existed in early June, the reasons given for withholding treatment are blatantly and illegally discriminatory under recent federal HHS Office of Civil Rights COVID triage rulings. The latest OCR settlement with the state of Tennessee makes it crystal clear that the Texas hospital’s decision leading to Mr. Hickson’s death violated federal standards.

Based on the information we have, it seems that the hospital used COVID triage and Texas futility policies in combination to try to “justify” a killing that neither policy could do alone. NDY questions the relative lack of media interest in this outrageous killing of a Black disabled man, and the hospital’s cold and cavalier dismissal of his life as unworthy of care. But for the video and audio recordings, this injustice would likely have remained hidden. Our hearts go out to his family for their terrible loss.


Mzylstra said...

Apparently not all Black lives matter.

SB from Friends For Life Alliance said...

I hope ADAPT of Texas will file a discrimination complaint with the federal HHS Office of Civil Rights.