Florida Same-Sex Hospital Visitation Rights Update...

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    I'm sure there was a topic on this case before, but I can't seem to find it. :eek: The Times posts an update on the legal proceedings. As a brief reminder, a lesbian couple was in Florida on vacation when one of the women had an aneurysm; she was treated at Jackson Memorial in Miami's trauma center. She ultimately died there. Her partner, who was actually carrying extensive legal documentation of her relationship with the patient, was denied visitation and ultimately was not allowed to be with the patient during the patient's dying hours.

    She claimed that the hospital wrongly denied her

    The recent (and in my opinion unfortunate) event is that a federal judge dismissed Ms. Langbehn's case against the hospital. I'm sure this isn't over yet, but...

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/no-visiting-rights-for-hospital-patients/

    The background of the case is covered in more detail in another of the author's blog posts, which also discusses some of the broader implications for patients even when same-sex partner issues are not involved:

    It seems very hard to me to believe that this hospital was engaging in a uniform policy in this situation. However, it appears at a quick glance that the federal ruling might suggest that there is no legal remedy even if the hospital policy was discriminatory, since it seems to find that the hospital has no responsibility to grant visitation whatsoever in the trauma context.
     
  2. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #2
    And people sit and wonder why we continue to push for equal marriage rights.
     
  3. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #3
    This is a symptom of an underlying problem. Fix the underlying problem and you fix this also. I hope that gay marriage has lower divorce rates then hetero once its established, then I can lol some more at the christians.
     
  4. bobber205 macrumors 68020

    bobber205

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    #4
    Quoted for truth and humor. :D
     
  5. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    #5
    legalizing gay marriage doesnt make the biases go away

    I recently had the experience of two of my friends who are married to each other for more than 3 years and gay

    one went in for semi emergency surgery. the other asked me to come in and pretend to the the firsts ones girlfriend so we could go see him
    since it was easier to let in a GF than a legally married same sex partner.

    On a side tangent
    another friend of mine who is a recently married lesbian, tried to open up a bank account with her spouse , when asked if she was married, she said yes, the bank teller didnt want to acknowledge that their marriage was a 'marriage'
    and same sex marriages ARE LEGAL here!
     
  6. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #6
    Then your friend has legal recourse and can have that taken care of rather easily. The bank will have to provide the joint account no matter what. We don't have that ability.

    I could care less what people think of us. I just don't want them to be able do these things to us legally.
     
  7. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #7
    Would it help if I married you?
     
  8. No1451 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    It still surprises and appals me that there needs to be legislation to get rid of these behaviours. I wish more people were like me, your personal life could not matter less to me.
     
  9. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #9
    Hey! I asked you first! :D

    No one ever lost a bet underestimating the intelligence of the American people in these situations. There are a lot of people in this country who simply don't use their brains. They like fear and ignorance much better.
     
  10. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #10
    The problem is consistency -- without the law, one apple in a bunch poisons the whole bunch. This is even pretty directly what happened in some of these cases -- you go to a hospital in Miami or anywhere else conservative (although, come on... Miami was the home of Gianni Versace FFS), and I would be surprised if the same sex partner wasn't let in 9 times out of 10. The problem is that without a procedure, that ten time is still there. And what if that tenth time comes with your partner's dying breath? That's a pretty hard insult to forgive.
     
  11. CaptMurdock macrumors 6502a

    CaptMurdock

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    #11
    It seems to me that unless the patient has some kind of contagious disease or has some severe immunological problem that necessitates limited contact, the hospital really has no reason not to let the patient have visitors.
     
  12. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #12
    Visits are routinely or at least not that infrequently restricted with trauma patients because of patient fatigue and anxiety-induced vital instability (head injury patients tend to become agitated with too many people in the room and too much going on and we want to keep them as stable as possible for a variety of reasons)... but that almost always just means that the number of visitors in the room at one time are limited, and outside of the one or two primary loved ones, people are asked to take brief shift visits, like going in for 5-10 minutes. That's all good advice, and I not only support it, but I also have given it before when I worked inpatient trauma units.

    So there are legitimate reasons outside of contagion, but of course they don't cover something like preventing someone from having visitors when they're dying or completely restricting someone from visiting at all.
     
  13. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #13
    This seems to imply that the judge would have dismissed a similar claim made by a heterosexual wife/husband. Does anyone earnestly believe that a similar case would have been dismissed? The hospital would have never survived the publicity storm if, say, a woman was kept from her husband as he took his last breath.

    However, are there more details on how long the patient was in the trauma center and at what point the doctors had judged that she could not be saved? Details like that are critical, because I suspect there was most likely a point in time when the family could have seen their mom one last time.
     
  14. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #14

    Could be or it could be the flip side of it. The public would not give a damn because it was your average married couple and therefor would accept the hostiple statement that they would interfere with the trauma center.
     
  15. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #15
    How many cases do you hear of a heterosexual couple being separated while facing an emergency like this? Quite honestly, hospitals are aware that it makes for bad press and unless they are operating on the patient actively or are doing something else extremely sensitive to the patient's care, they let at least the spouse into the room.

    The fact is that this lesbian couple is not the first (nor, sadly, the last) gay couple to face this problem. Even in cases when domestic partnership can be proven with documentation (not unlike this case) hospitals have not recognized the legitimacy of such a partnership.

    This is a case of homophobia, it's just been nicely covered by the fact that it took place in a trauma center where ambiguity allows discrimination to live to fight another day.
     
  16. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #16
    My question is why would that be even news. I question if it would even make the news because well there is no controversy in it so they do not give a damn about it.

    It is thin ice either way. but I think the judge has a point that a trama center should not be required to 2nd guess if they are going to sued for said actions.
     
  17. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #17
    Imagine hearing that a wife was kept from her husband by a rude nurse. The hospital would never hear the end of it, and would most likely settle out of court because no jury would be sympathetic to the hospital.

    As a point of fact, most states have laws that grant relatively wide latitude to the spouse (note this means straight spouse), with the exceptions that mkrishnan already noted. This legal protection is also a large part of the reason why hospitals tend not to resist when a wife wants to see her husband.

    No such protection exists for gay couples in most of the US, especially not in Florida. The hospital has little to fear in refusing to grant visitation to a gay spouse because there is no legal violation and the public in that region would be apathetic at best.
     
  18. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #18
    I am one of those who has been separated, and I am hetero. My SO ended up delivering our baby girl prematurely, and I was not allowed in the room. I missed the very few minutes my daughter was alive, and all I got to see of her was a limp body. The hospital stated that she wasn't far enough in the pregnancy to deem it living, and classified her as 'waste specimen'. No birth or death certificate; just a second trimester miscarriage. Yes, an emergency, and my SO would have fared s*******s better if I had been in the room with her.

    I wasn't allowed in.

    Too true, and regardless of it being same sex couples, this is way too often the case.

    I'll keep this in mind, for I know I'm not the only one in my position, but yes, this is a clear case of homophobia and discrimination. I hope the court rules this right.

    BL.
     
  19. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #19
    If they wanted Ms. Langbehn to understand that visiting her dying spouse would interfere with the activities of the trauma center, the hospital's representative might have tried saying something more like, "I'm very sorry for you, but allowing you in would interfere with the activities of the trauma center," and less like "you are in an anti-gay city and state. And without a health care proxy you will not see Lisa nor know of her condition."

    Things tend to go more smoothly that way.

    If it were, say, a multiracial couple and the social worker had said, "you are in an anti-mixed-race city and state," you can be damned sure it would make news, and I suspect a judge might have taken a much different view of what a hospital is and is not obliged to do.
     
  20. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #20
    Why weren't you allowed in?
     
  21. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #21
    That was my question, in which the hospital did not answer, except to say that they did not want anybody in the room except the doctor and his nurses/assistants. I even demanded to be let in, saying that I was the father, and was still denied.

    So for about 45 minutes I stood outside of the room she was in while she gave birth to our baby.

    So yes, this happens to heterosexual couples as well, and while it wouldn't help the same sex couples' case, it surely would make the news if it happened to a 'normal' couple, and as it should.

    BL.
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #22
    It's very unusual for someone to be kept out without being given a reason. Usually it only happens if there is significant danger/disruption/distraction posed by letting in non-medical staff. Or alternatively they don't have explicit permission to let someone in. The hospital has to err on the side of caution - especially surrounding women's health. It's quite common for the partner, father or not, to be unwelcome.

    Must have been awful for you though :(.
     
  23. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #23
    Now I have no direct experience with obstetrics, but I understand that some of it (sometimes) has to do with acute instability management -- like if something crashes unexpectedly while the mother is delivering... sort of like they would kick you out of the room if you were in trauma and your partner had a heart attack.

    But part of it is certainly also paternalism -- which is a big problem with the way obstetrics handles deliveries -- when deliveries became medicalized, the rate of infant and mother fatalities dropped way down, but (for instance see Naomi Wolf's great book) some people say the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction and doctors overuse C-sections, episiotomies, and epidurals, and also over-confine mothers to bed-rest, in many cases where a more natural birth would actually be very low risk.

    They ought to at least provide you an explanation of why they did what they did after the fact, though. Otherwise it's natural that it seems awfully fishy.
     
  24. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #24
    Seems to me that "saying a hospital trauma center has no legal obligation to allow visitors" is just a way to sidestep the real issue of it being a same-sex couple.
     

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