Guardian ad litem, a potentially expensive invitation to either the mismanagement or management of patients with cognitive disorders
Richard F Edlich
Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Abstract: The children of a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient filed a guardian ad litem case to be brought against the patient. The basis for the petition was that the MS patient had a significant reduction is his mental competence. The children were not aware that hyperthermia could adversely affect the brain of MS patients. The patient's urologist recommended he have a suprapubic cystostomy done in a hospital. Passage of the two channel Foley catheter into his bladder immediately resolved his urinary tract infection, fever, and difficulty in communicating. Despite this dramatic improvement in his health from the urologic treatment, he was now faced with resolving his children's petition for a guardian ad litem that would allow them to control his estate including his residence and financial retirement assets. A judge supported this petition by requesting that the patient with MS pay for his children's attorney fees, 24 hour nursing home services that duplicated his own hired personal care assistants, the salary of the guardian ad litem, the attorney fees for the guardian ad litem, and payment for a psychological evaluation. The state law should be changed to require that the petitioner have adequate income to pay for his/her attorney as well as the salary of the guardian ad litem to prevent mismanagement of patients with cognitive disorders. In addition, the guardian ad litem should be an attorney or a registered nurse. The care of disabled individuals subjected to litigation should be coordinated by an attorney or registered nurse.
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, infection control, law, nurse
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