A Wisconsin judge has set a date for a three-week jury trial in a wrongful death case against doctors and a hospital for placing a “do not resuscitate (DNR)” order for a Down syndrome patient without the knowledge or permission of her family.
Family Sues for Wrongful Death
Grace Schara, a 19-year-old, was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin in October 2021 for COVID-19. Seven days later she died after hospital staff refused to intervene when her vital signs plummeted.
Grace’s family later learned about the DNR order and claimed medical personnel administered a combination of lethal and unnecessary drugs, hastening her death.
(Grace Schara photo courtesy, Schara family)
The family filed a lawsuit against Ascension Health, five medical doctors, and others, on April 11, 2023. On July 18, an Outagamie County judge heard motions from the defense to dismiss the case and receive a declaratory judgment, arguing the case was moot and not about wrongful death, but malpractice.
In a courtroom packed with Schara supporters, according to news reports, Circuit Court Judge Mark McGinnis rejected both motions and set a “fast track” trial date for November 4, 2024.
Bigger Issue Is Consent
In a news release, Grace’s father Scott Schara said this is a “bellwether case” much bigger than malpractice.
“Our goal is simple: save lives. That’s why this case is first about the lack of informed consent—a battery—leading to negligence and malpractice, which then resulted in wrongful death,” said Schara. “Moreover, this case is about protecting the public from doctors unilaterally placing DNR orders on patients. If we would have had informed consent, Grace would be with us today.”
Grace’s family is funding the lawsuit themselves.
“We had originally budgeted $250,000 for the trial, not knowing how long it would be—but since the trial has now been scheduled for three weeks, it looks like the cost will be closer to $350,000,” Schara told Health Care News.
The family has set up a page on the fundraising platform Give Send Go for members of the public who want to support their effort.
(Photo courtesy, Schara family