In fall of 2007 the Surrogate Decision Making Committee received an expedited case for a patient that was 72 years old and was having problems swallowing his food.

     This man’s primary care physician wanted consent for the placement of a feeding tube as the man had a long history of digestive issues.

     This man’s caregivers were very emotional at the SDMC hearing, because chances were that if consent were given for the tube’s placement, it was likely he’d be moved to a different facility or nursing home where they would be better equipped to provide care. It was apparent that the caregivers really loved this man. One nurse was in tears talking about the house staff’s relationship with him over the last 20 years.

     The caregivers testified that one of the few pleasures the man had was eating, and that he wouldn’t experience tasting his food or eating by mouth again if he were to get a feeding tube.

     After the panel asked questions from the caregivers and a doctor, they went into deliberation and decided that at this man’s age the tube was not in the man’s best interest and that he wouldn’t enjoy a good quality life after the procedure. The consent request was denied. After hearing the doctor’s testimony and then the SDMC panel’s decision, some thought this man’s time on Earth was nearly at an end.

     The SDMC panel’s decision was contested by the facility in Supreme Court and was upheld by the court.

     This case was seen in the fall of 2007, and the patient is still living today with the same health care provider. He is still being treated from time to time for his digestive issues, but still enjoys eating and tasting his food in the loving environment he has known for the past twenty years.