Thursday, February 24, 2011

FOX news continues to misreport Maraachli baby story

I first posted about this tragic story yesterday.

The new information is that the hospital in Michigan refused to accept the baby to perform a tracheotomy.

Normal people hearing that may feel bad that the family's hoped-for plan for the baby to die at home won't happen. They may also clue in that this isn't a story about universal medicare in Canada, but about difficult end-of-life health care decisions for an infant, since an American hospital came to the same decision as the Canadian one.

But no....Fox News can't let go of a good opportunity to do some fear-mongering. They just need to distort some facts along the way.

#1: Say that the child was ordered off life support by "government health officials". No, he wasn't. The Consent and Capacity Review Board is an independent tribunal which deals with the issue of who can make health care decisions on behalf of someone else. See

#2: Refer to "Canadian health care allocation officials" making the decision to remove the life support. No such thing exists! The Consent and Capacity Review Board has NOTHING to do with health care spending, and it is an independent board which isn't under the control of politicians.

#3: Say that the hospital is approaching the "Canadian government" for permission to remove the life support. No, it isn't. The Canadian government has no role in this case, since health care is a provincial responsibility. The hospital would need to deal with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario, which is responsible for making health care decisions for someone who is mentally incapable if there are no other suitable substitute decision makers. They cannot consider any factors other than the interests or previously expressed wishes of the patient.

I don't necessary expect all Americans to know about the details of federal/provincial jurisdiction and the exact mechanism of consent to treatment procedures - but if it is your job to report on a story, get enough information to do your job properly. Don't make up for lack of information by simply making up information that fits into your political agenda - like inventing "Canadian health care allocation officials".

Here is a link to the original decision of the Consent and Capacity Review Board, which provides a detailed overview of the law and of the medical facts. It's clear that either leaving the breathing tube in or doing a tracheotomy would not be benign measures.

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