Protect Those Who Cannot Speak For Themselves sign now

We, the people of the state of Virginia, urge you, the elected officials of the Virginia General Assembly, to amend the Code of Virginia to better protect the lives of incapacitated adults, including those who are younger than 60 years old.

Virginia Code 18.2-369 defines "neglect" as it pertains to incapacitated adults. The definition currently reads as "the knowing and willful failure by a responsible person to provide treatment, care, goods, or services which results in injuring to the health or endangers the safety of an incapacitated adult."

The ambiguity of this definition allows the placement of incapacitated adults into care environments which are clearly disadvantageous to their long-term safety. Despite obvious dangers, many incapacitated patients are discharged from hospitals to the homes of caregivers who are not equipped, trained, or responsible enough to provide the level of care needed to ensure the best survivability of the patient. Intervention does not take place until the incapacitated adult is actually harmed, which may be too late to save a person's life or prevent permanent dysfunction.

We propose that the definition be clarified. The denial of care options, which would provide a reasonable advantage to the long-term safety of the incapacitated adult, should also be considered a neglectful action. This would not exclude the option of homecare to the many patients whose needs could be met by an informal caregiver. It would however discourage the irresponsible discharge of more needy and vulnerable patients, such as those in persistent vegetative states, into environments which clearly reduce their chances of survival.

Jessica Eanes of Radford, now residing in Floyd County, is only 24 years old. She is in a vegetative state following a brainstem stroke. She could have many years ahead of her to recover, to see advances in medicine, and to then pursue happiness, but only if she is given the best chances to stay alive until then. She belongs in a professional care facility, but instead she is in a trailer forty-five minutes from the nearest hospital, on a road that can hardly be travelled during the Winter, with only her tired mother to look after her. Don't let Jessica's life fall through the cracks in our laws.

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Javier BraunBy:
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Virginia General Assembly

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