Marjorie Mangiaruca, an Alzheimer’s patient, repeatedly told her daughter that “she would not want to have a prolonged death, or to have her life extended by any artificial means, including any medical intervention to unnaturally delay her death.” Marjorie designated her daughter, Sharon Hallada, as her agent for health care decisions to ensure that her wishes would be followed.  

When Marjorie was admitted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center in September 2011, Sharon informed hospital staff of her health care wishes and status as DNR, and presented them with the power of attorney documents naming Sharon as agent. The attending physician signed a DNR order and also wrote “DNR” in Marjorie’s chart.

Marjorie was later discharged from the hospital and sent to Oakbridge Healthcare Center (a nursing facility). Unbeknownst to Sharon, the hospital failed to transfer a copy of the DNR order. On October 10, 2011, Marjorie was transported via ambulance back to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. En route, CPR was administered, a tracheostomy (a hole created in a person’s neck to insert an airway tube) was performed, and they administered medicine to attempt to revive Marjorie. On arrival at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, further attempts to save her life were made. Marjorie was discharged from the emergency room and admitted to the intensive care unit, where she would never regain her consciousness.

Sharon Hallada was tasked with the unfortunate duty of making a decision she never should have had to make — whether or not to disconnect her mother from the ventilator and remove the endotracheal tube, both of which were sustaining Marjorie’s life. Had these procedures never been performed and Marjorie’s wish to die naturally been allowed, she likely would have died from natural causes at the nursing facility. Instead, she was subjected to numerous unnecessary and undesired medical procedures in attempts to save and sustain her life.

On October 12, 2011, Sharon directed hospital staff to remove the tube and ventilator. Five days later, on October 17, Marjorie Mangiaruca died in her daughter’s presence.

Shortly thereafter, the hospital submitted bills to Sharon for fees associated with the services they performed on Marjorie following her unwanted resuscitation. The hospital demanded payment, and never apologised to Sharon for disobeying the DNR status in Marjorie’s files.

Sharon retained Compassion & Choices and Jeffrey S. Badgley of Orlando, Florida, for legal representation, and filed a Complaint against Lakeland Regional Medical Center and Oakbridge Healthcare Center, claiming that the two parties failed to communicate with each other, and with Marjorie and Sharon, failed to properly train its staff, and failed to respect Marjorie’s statutory rights relating to her healthcare decisions.

Marjorie Mangiaruca’s story demonstrates just how important it is to ensure not only that you have healthcare planning documents in place, but also the importance of making sure each individual facility is provided with a copy of each document. For more information regarding advance directives and other health care planning documents, or to get in touch with our End of Life Consultation Department, please click here.

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