Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2005

Committee hearing first hurdle for ‘Alene’s Law’

February 17, 2005

The first hurdle for a Basehor woman's bid to have a proposed bill passed into law came Wednesday in Topeka when she was scheduled to testify before a Kansas Legislature committee. Legislative officials said the future of House Bill 2211 -- a bill that would require emergency medical attendants to honor durable power of attorney agreements -- would be determined, in part, by the testimony heard Wednesday afternoon before the health and human services committee.

Tammy Potts of Basehor is petitioning state legislators to pass H.B. 2211, or as she calls it, "Alene's Law." Potts contends the bill would protect Kansas patients and those entrusted with their care from similar pitfalls that befell her and her mother, Alene Wilson of Basehor, during a medical call in November 2003.

Rep. Jim Morrison, R-Colby, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, was not available for comment. A staffer from his office said Morrison's committee would make a decision by Feb. 22 whether to send H.B. 2211 to the House floor.

If House members approve the bill, it would be forwarded to the Senate. From there, it would need the Senate's approval and then the governor's signature.

Although results of the committee meeting were not available as of press time, Potts gave The Sentinel an advance copy of testimony she was to present before the committee.

In her testimony, Potts describes the alleged actions of Leavenworth County EMS attendants in November 2003, which she claims led to her mother's untimely death.

Paramedics were called to Wilson's home after she had fallen and broken her hip. Wilson, who had been diagnosed as suffering from dementia and hallucinations, told the medical attendants she did not want to be transported to the hospital. Her daughter, Potts, who possessed durable power of attorney agreements granting her financial and medical decision making powers for her mother, told EMT's to transport her to the hospital regardless.

The attendants refused Potts' wishes. She said they ignored the power of attorney agreements and showed little compassion in dealing with her and her injured mother. Because she had no alternative, Potts transported her mother to the hospital 17 hours after her fall. Wilson died from pneumonia 14 days later.

"How do we prevent this from happening again?," Potts said in her testimony. "Bill 2211 is the first step. Every ambulance in the state of Kansas will be required to keep a copy of Bill 2211's provisions for on scene review of legal documents.

"We do not want what happened with Alene to happen again. If Bill 2211 stops here and does not become law, then this crew's callous actions will be repeated. It is a matter of time. They didn't read our (durable power of attorney agreement). They ignored mom's history of dementia, and lastly, they abandoned her with a life threatening injury. Bill 2211 clearly defines legal documents and EMS required response. They should have transported her. It is a matter of common sense, compassion and truly caring for someone who does not understand the dire need of her injury of circumstances."

Wilson's doctor, Leavenworth physician Peter Cristiano, was also scheduled to submit written testimony Wednesday to the committee.

A copy of his testimony was not made available beforehand, but Potts said the doctor's comments would reflect that, in his medical opinion, EMS attendants failure to transport Wilson to the hospital was a contributing factor to his patient's death.

Cristiano made similar remarks in a story that appeared in The Sentinel in September 2004.

"Obviously it contributed to her final demise," he said at that time. "It definitely contributed to it. It contributed to her general weakness and it lowered her resistance.

"If you come across someone with a broken leg, would you just leave them there? No, you wouldn't. You have to put it in the pretext of common sense. Whether it's EMS, you or me walking down the street, you do it. People help other people.

"Leaving is just not acceptable."

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