Case Study – Matter of Quinlan

Case Study – Matter of Quinlan

Karen Ann Quinlan, a twenty-two-year-old who ingested a harmful mix of drugs and alcohol, suffered two fifteen-minute periods of interrupted breathing which left her in a chronic vegetative state without any cognitive functions.

Evidence in the case included statements the patient made earlier referring to her “distaste for continuance of life by extraordinary medical procedures.” These statements were deemed by the court as remote, impersonal and lacking trial “probative weight.”

Mr. Cruzan, the patient’s father, sought appointment as her guardian along with the authority to terminate “all extraordinary medical procedures.” This petition was opposed by the doctors, the hospital, the prosecutor, and the guardian ad litem.

The trial court refused the order to withdraw life-supporting apparatus. The father/guardian appealed.