1 Issues L. & Med. 85 (1985-1986)
Bartling v. Superior Court

handle is hein.journals/ilmed1 and id is 111 raw text is: Bartling v. Superior Court
HELD: A competent adult has the right to have a respirator
withdrawn even if he or she is not terminally ill, has the poten-
tial to maintain cognitive sapience, and will die if the respirator
is withdrawn.
In Bartling v. Superior Court, 209 Cal. Rptr. 220 (Cal. Ct. App. 2
Dist. 1984), the court, in reversing the trial court's decision, held that a
competent adult with a serious and probably incurable-but not ter-
minal-disease has the right to have a respirator withdrawn even
though withdrawal would result in death. [T]he trial court was incor-
rect when it held that the right to have life-support equipment discon-
nected was limited to comatose, terminally ill patients, or representa-
tives acting on their behalf. Id. at 223.
Mr. Bartling, a 70 year old man, was suffering from emphysema,
chronic respiratory failure, arteriosclerosis, an abdominal aneurysm,
and a malignant lung tumor. He also has a history of chronic acute
anxiety/depression and alcoholism. Mr. Bartling entered the hospital
on April 8, 1984, for treatment of his depression. A routine chest x-ray
showed a tumor on the lung. While performing a needle biopsy on the
tumor the lung collasped and did not reinflate despite the insertion of
chest tubes and the placement of Mr. Bartling on a respirator. A trache-
otomy was eventually performed and efforts to wean Mr. Bartling from
the respirator were unsuccessful. Several times Mr. Bartling tried to
disconnect the respirator tubes and, as a result, he was placed in soft
restraints. Id. at 221.
During the following months, Mr. Bartling made several attempts
to legally force the disconnection of the respirator. He executed a
living will which stated in part: if at such time the situation should
arise in which there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from
extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die

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