A Winnipeg family that went to court to prolong the life of their father calls a recent report into the case a whitewash.

The review  was prompted by a battle between the family of Sam Golubchuk and doctors at Winnipeg's Grace Hospital.

Golubchuk, had been on life support with minimal brain function in 2008 and doctors wanted to take him off life support, but his relatives argued that would violate his beliefs as an Orthodox Jew.

Golubchuk died that same year before the fight could be resolved in the courts.

The report from the review was released last week on March 25.


Samuel Golubchuk, had been on life-support at the Grace Hospital when he died. (Family photo)

Golubchuk's daughter Miriam Geller told CBC News that nothing has changed because doctors still have the final say in those sensitive matters. A review panel to decide disputes would have been a better solution, she said.

However, the report states Health Minister Theresa Oswald rejected a call for a review panel with authority to adjudicate such disputes.

Instead, she accepted recommendations for better education and communication to try to head off disagreements over care.

Public education program

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is launching a public education program that will see doctors and nurses encourage patients who come to hospital, even for short term problems, to fill out a health-care directive specifying the level of care they would want.

The health authority will also increase access to mediation and ethics support for families so that disputes over care can be settled before they end up in court.

Geller said the report is a waste of money and she has the support of a doctor who was once an opponent.

Dr. Anand Kumar resigned from Grace Hospital at the height of the 2008 controversy, stating the court-ordered efforts to keep Golubchuk alive were "tantamount to torture" as well as "immoral."

Now, he is on side with Geller when it comes to believing a review panel should be established. It can act quickly, unlike courts, when there is a dispute, Kumar said.

"Look at the one-year period that in our case, the Golubchuk case, was between the time initial filing was made and the time they scheduled the court case. It was one year for a dying patient," he said.

"My own personal feeling is that a consent and capacity board similar to Ontario or similar to what's down in Texas is a very good very open process."

But the provincial government doesn't think a review panel is necessary and the WRHA says, for now, it agrees.