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Shoemaker v. UPMC Pinnacle Hospital_ When the Legal and Health Systems Collide.pdf (68.69 kB)

Shoemaker v. UPMC Pinnacle Hospital: When the Legal and Health Systems Collide

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posted on 2023-11-20, 19:55 authored by Gabby Ramasci

The legal system is constantly intersecting with the industries around us. This semester alone, Juris Mentem contributors have covered topics surrounding corporate law, state law, international law, climate law, abortion law, marijuana law, and much more. The case of Shoemaker v. UPMC Pinnacle Hospital is one that looks at the intersection of the medical system and the legal system. Many essences of the legal system exist in the medical world, the most commonly well-known being HIPPA regulations. This case is one that deals with the administration of medications that are against hospital protocols but is what the patient desires.

Mr. Cauffman was a 74-year-old man who was diagnosed in early 2022 with COVID-19. By January 10, 2022, he was sedated, intubated, and put on a ventilator in the UPMC Pinnacle Hospital in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. [1] It was at this point that Ms. Shoemaker assumed the role of medical power of attorney. The state of Pennsylvania defines a health care power of attorney as someone that an individual has designated to make decisions regarding their health. [2] Ms. Shoemaker decided that a prescription of ivermectin was the best way to treat Mr. Cauffman’s case, and despite obtaining a prescription from Dr. Michael Theiblemont, the hospital refused to administer the drug as it was against their approved protocol treatments for COVID-19.

The first legal action was taken in response to the Hospital’s refusal to administer ivermectin occurred on January 14th, 2022, where Ms. Shoemaker filed both a complaint within the Hospital and an Emergency Petition for Injunctive Relief. An Emergency Petition for Injunctive Relief can be issued after a court has received a written notice, which was provided by Ms. Shoemaker. The trial court provided an ex parte preliminary injunction, citing that it was possible Mr. Cauffman would face irreparable harm without the administration of the drug. An official hearing took place on January 19, 2022, which led to a verdict on January 26 that granted the motion for a preliminary injunction and enforced that the Hospital administer ivermectin to Mr. Cauffman.

UMPC Hospital filed a notice of appeal to the preliminary injunction on January 31, 2022. After a lack of action from the trial court, an Emergency Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal was brought by UPMC, with an affidavit from a doctor indicated that the ivermectin was being properly administered, but was making no dent in his COVID-19 symptoms, and an increase in liver function results pointed to reports made that ivermectin could cause liver damage. [4]

Unfortunately, just after UPMS’s motion was granted, Mr. Cauffman passed away on February 22, 2022. The case was Brought to the Superior Court to determine whether or not the appeal the Hospital brought was moot given the patient’s death. This ruling had little to do with whether or not ivermectin was the correct treatment, but rather whether Mr. Cauffman had the legal right to request it be his treatment. The final decision made by The Superior Court was that the patient does not have the right to compel a hospital to administer a treatment that is against its protocols. [5] This is likely to stand for a precedent outside of cases relating to treating COVID-19 with ivermectin.

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The Juris Mentem Law Review

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This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Juris Mentem Law Review. This article has been accepted for inclusion in the Juris Mentem Digital Collection. The Digital Collection is edited by Juris Mentem Staff but is not peer-reviewed by university faculty. For more information, visit: https://www.american.edu/spa/jlc/juris-mentem.cfm Questions can be directed to jurismentem@american.edu

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