Freedom of Choice at the End of Life

Freedom of Choice at the End of Life: Patients’ Rights in a Shifting Legal and Political Landscape


Friday, November 16, 2012 at New York Law School

Videorecordings of the symposium panels are available here.  Photos from the event are available here. Click here to view videorecordings of the event in iTunes.

8:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., followed by a wine and cheese reception.  Breakfast and lunch were provided.

The concept that individuals have the right to choose the manner and time of their death and the right to decline unwanted treatment has been a relatively recent development, as is the law that a person does not lose these rights upon incapacity. Individual rights are not uniformly recognized in practice, however, and there are many limits on when and how they can be enforced. This conference addressed a broad range of issues including impediments to honoring those rights, advance planning tools for persons to ensure compliance with their choices and how to enforce them, legislative and decisional developments, surrogate decision-making for patients whose wishes are not known, pain management and palliative care, hospice, aid in dying, ethical dilemmas in decision-making, medical ineffectiveness of treatment (“futility”), concerns of persons with disabilities, the effect of religion on law and policy, and how the media treats these issues.

A Justice Action Center Symposium, cosponsored with the New York Law School Law Review and the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families

Additional support provided by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging; the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys; the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association; Compassion and Choices of New York; and Collaborative for Palliative Care, Westchester/NYS Southern Region.

Selected papers presented at the symposium will be published in a forthcoming issue of the New York Law School Law Review.  Information about the related issue is available here.

PROGRAM AND SPEAKERS

8:15am–9:00am
Check-in for pre-registered guests

Continental breakfast was available in the Events Center.

9:00am–9:45am
Welcome

  • Peter J. Strauss, Symposium Chair, Adjunct Professor, New York Law School
  • Kathryn L. Tucker, JD, Director of Legal Affairs, Compassion & Choices, Adjunct Professor of Law, Loyola Law School/Los Angeles

9:45am–11:00am
Panel I: Taking Control and Preserving Autonomy

This panel discussed the need for advance planning and one’s rights to do so, available advance directive tools: health care proxies, living wills, POLST (MOLST); enforcement of patient rights and emerging issues, trends and new legislation.  Attendees at this panel were eligible for 1 CLE credit in professional practice.

  • Moderator: Peter J. Strauss, Symposium Chair, Adjunct Professor, New York Law School
  • Nadia N. Sawicki, Assistant Professor, Beazley Institute for Health Law & Policy, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Lisa Comeau, Attorney, Law Office of Lisa M. Comeau
  • David C. Leven, Executive Director, Compassion and Choices of New York
  • Mary Beth Morrissey, Esq., Ph.D., M.P.H.; President, Collaborative for Palliative Care, Westchester/NYS Southern Region

11:00am–11:15am
Break

11:15am–1:00pm
Panel II: Real-Time Critical Issues

This panel explored best practices in End of Life Care: palliative care, pain management, the “double effect”, hospice and transitional care. In addition, the panel discussed the conflict between family and physician over medically ineffective treatment (“futility”) and the ethics of decision making for persons with dementia.  Attendees at this panel were eligible for 2 CLE credits in professional practice.

  • Moderator: Carlin Meyer, Director, the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families, Professor, New York Law School
  • David Muller, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Dean for Medical Education, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Director, Visiting Doctors Program
  • Gabrielle Goldberg, M.D., Assistant Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Education Director, Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute
  • Thaddeus M. Pope, JD, Ph.D., Director, Health Law Institute at Hamline University, Adjunct Associate Professor, Albany Medical College
  • Bonnie Steinbock, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University at Albany/SUNY
  • Paul T. Menzel, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Pacific Lutheran University

1:00pm–2:15pm
Lunch and Keynote Speaker

  • Introduction: Peter J. Strauss, Symposium Chair, Adjunct Professor, New York Law School
  • Honorable Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge, New York State Court of Appeals

Attendees at this panel were eligible for 1 CLE credit in professional practice.

2:15pm–4:15pm
Panel III: Special People, Special Issues

This panel discussed the issues of concern for people with disabilities and the conflict between organizations dedicated to protecting their rights and end-of-life advocates. The panel discussed the views of some of the major religion and whether conservative theological values can co-exist with patient choice. Finally, the panel concluded with a discussion of the quality of medical care provided to prisoners and how their end of life choices are treated.  Attendees at this panel were eligible for 2 CLE credit in professional practice.

  • Moderator: Sue D. Porter, Compassion and Choices
  • Alicia Ouellette, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Professor of Law, Albany Law School; Professor of Bioethics at Union Graduate College/Mt. Sinai School of Medicine Program in Bioethics
  • Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs, BCC, Adjunct Professor, New York Theological Seminary; Chaplain, New York Presbyterian Hospital – Columbia Campus; Author, A Clergy Guide to End of Life Issues; Blogger: Huffington Post
  • Ann Neumann, Editor, The Revealer, The Center for Religion and Media, New York University
  • Honorable Brian Fischer, Commissioner, New York State Department of Corrections
  • Carl J. Koenigsman, M.D., Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

4:15pm–4:45pm
Plenary Session: How the Media Affects Policy and Individual Rights, From Schiavo to Death Squads

  • Sherrie Dulworth, R.N., Healthcare Management Consultant and Freelance Reporter

4:45pm–5:00pm
Closing Remarks

Reception followed

 

CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION

This program was approved for a maximum of six (6) credits of continuing legal education (CLE) credit in professional practice for both transitional and non-transitional attorneys. There was no charge for CLE above and beyond the normal cost of registration.