Veteran claims VA doctor refused to operate because of his "do not resuscitate" wishes

Heart catheter procedure put on hold
Posted at 10:12 PM, Aug 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 01:13:24-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- The IV was already inserted in a vein on his right arm.  He was on a hospital gurney and ready for the procedure that could clear blockages in the arteries surrounding his heart.  That was when Andrew Costew says the doctor called the procedure off.

It was because Costew refused to suspend his "do not resuscitate" directive during the procedure.

Costew is a Navy veteran.  The hospital where he was supposed to have a heart catheterization was the Department of Veteran's Affairs in La Jolla.

"My rights are not being respected," said Costew, hours after he was sent home with chest pains he said are getting worse. 

Costew said before calling 10News he contacted the patient advocate at the VA, a social worker, and a friend who is a JAG officer. 

“All three of them told me straight up I have a DNR. It's legal. It’s issued by the VA. That doctor has to either honor it or find another doctor that does honor it or get the surgery done outside of the hospital," Costew

None of those things happened.

Costew said the next step will be to call his Congressman or even President Donald Trump to get the care he needs before his heart shuts down for good.

When asked why he wouldn't suspend his DNR during the procedure, Costew answered he's already been revived once, after a massive heart attack in 2005.  "I was dead for seven minutes," he said. 

Costew doesn't want that to happen again.

10News contacted VA San Diego Healthcare. Director Robert M. Smith, MD issued this statement:

"VA San Diego is committed to respecting patient autonomy. However, certain complicated procedures have a high risk of transient disturbances in cardiac rhythm or function, and partial or temporary suspension of an order to not perform resuscitation is community practice, since the ability to intervene when a complication occurs is necessary in order to safely perform the procedure."

The VA cannot discuss Costew's case in detail without his permission but said if and when they could release specifics they will.