Question: Does Indiana Recognize Wrongful Prolongation of Life?
Answer: Because the Health Care Consent Act which provides the necessary protections to patients and their families, Indiana does not. See below.
Patient’s estate and adult children brought action against nursing home for wrongful prolongation of patient’s life, since patient had executed a living will that directed that if she was suffering from a terminal illness with “no reasonable possibility of recovery,” her doctors should not take “extraordinary means” to prolong her life. This case centered on use of feeding tube to extend life by providing nutrition to a patient in a comatose state.
The “rights” of families to make health care decisions were created by the Health Care Consent Act. When health care providers and family members disagree as to the proper course of medical treatment, they have the statutory right to go to court to resolve the dispute. Thus, there is no need to recognize a new cause of action for wrongful prolongation of life because the procedure set forth in I.C. § 16–36–1–8 adequately protects the rights and interests of patients, their families and their health care providers. In this case, patient’s family had the right to go to court and seek to challenge the decisions and actions of the doctors in the placement of the feeding tube.