End-of-Life Care Compromise

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A Senate panel has approved a bill that would give families more time to find alternative care for a dying relative when a hospital decides continuing treatment is futile.

The bill passed last night by the Senate Health and Human Services committee gives families at least 21 days to transfer a relative to another facility.

The existing law gives families ten days.

The proposal would also establish a process for families to seek a court order to keep a relative alive longer than 21 days. It also reserves futile care beds in Texas nursing homes.

The bill could come before the full Senate next week.

The existing law was passed in 1999. It allows hospitals to end life-sustaining treatment in medically futile cases after a ten-day notice to the family. The decision to end treatment is subject to review by a hospital ethics or medical committee.