End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Hargett v. Vitas

What We Do > In the Courts > Hargett v. Vitas

Compassion & Choices is bringing suit against Vitas, the nation’s largest for-profit hospice, for failure to inform the patient of the option for palliative sedation and provide adequate pain management.  

In September 2009, Michelle Hargett Beebee, a 43-year-old mother of three young children, was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Her pain and symptoms escalated quickly, and soon after Michelle was referred to hospice care at Vitas, the nation’s largest for-profit hospice chain. Michelle entered Vitas hospice in November 2009 with the goal of bringing her pain and symptoms under control and to have a peaceful death. Instead, Michelle died in misery.

Watch the video of Joe and Carol Hargett talking about their daughter’s death:

Michelle’s parents were at her side advocating strongly for optimal care and pain management. Despite their advocacy and a California law designed to help patients make informed choices, she was never told that medications were available that would have eased her acute pain.

This terrible story should never be repeated. That’s why Compassion & Choices has filed a groundbreaking lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court under the California Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Act. The lawsuit seeks accountability from the hospice for its reckless failure to treat Michelle’s unrelieved agony as she approached death and for its failure to inform Michelle of her option to choose palliative sedation.

Read more:

Lawsuit: Nation’s largest hospice did not provide a young mother with a ‘peaceful death’
By Bryce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
November 19, 2010

Californians Have the Right to Not Die In Pain
By Robert Crusickshank
Calitics.com
November 23, 2010

Hargett v. Vitas Amended Complaint

Defendant’s Motion to Strike

Appellate Ruling

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