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Lawmakers Consider Resuscitation Bill

House lawmakers considered a bill this morning that would direct emergency services personnel to perform life-sustaining treatment on a patient without reviewing a written directive or living will first.

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Deloris Read said she lost her husband of 50 years after paramedics reviewed his living will and refused to continue performing CPR. "To continue would be breaking the law,” the head paramedic told her. When the couple's son attempted to continue CPR himself, six paramedics wrestled him to the ground and threatened to have him arrested. 

Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, said a bill she presented to the House Public Health Committee this morning would prevent situations like this from happening again. The bill would direct emergency services personnel to perform CPR on a patient without reviewing any a written directive, except an out-of-hospital DNR issued by a physician. “Emergency services personnel to do not have the time or training to review, evaluate or interpret written directives in an emergency situation,” she said.

EMS followed perfect protocol in the Reid situation, said Maxie Bishop, the state EMS director. He said the head paramedic called a local medical director, who decided, given on the physical condition of the man, to halt CPR. But Bishop told legislators there isn't a statewide protocol for when EMS personnel should discontinue CPR.

“Good gosh, is there any sort of sense of what the state should say is a reasonable local protocol?” asked Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, an anesthesiologist by trade. “That’s very disturbing to me, from a state level [to] say local protocol was followed and we didn’t see any problem with that.” 

Zerwas wasn't alone in his outrage. Lawmakers remembered all too well a scenario during the 2009 legislative session when now-deceased Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, collapsed with a heart attack and was resuscitated by Zerwas. Kuempel died in November 2010 of another cardiac arrest. 

“Our colleague was down, and Mr. Zerwas worked on him way beyond the time that was appropriate … and he did resuscitate our colleague," McClendon said.

The bill was left pending in committee. 

Correction: EMS would still be directed to review out-of-hospital do not resuscitate directives issued by a physician. 

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