A local woman is calling on a change to a Virginia hospital's hospice policy after she says her late husband had to suffer through an agonizing video call during the final hours of his life.
Nina Butler says she and her husband Nick were soulmates.
"We just clicked," she said. "Nick was the most kind, caring, genuine person I’ve ever ever known."
Nick Butler treated her daughter as his own, she says, and always lived life to the fullest.
"When I met him, he had had testicular cancer," she said.
Nick beat the odds and a few years later, their daughter Vera was born.
But the cancer came back.
Last week, before Vera's 2nd birthday, Nina found Nick unconscious on the couch. She knew their journey was about to end so he was rushed to Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg.
She said Nick was ready to go to hospice to die peacefully.
"I was able to ask if he knew what was happening and he said, 'Yes' and I said, 'Are you OK with this now?' and he said, 'Yes.'"
But there was no power of attorney so doctors told Nina that Nick would have to sign the “Do not resuscitate” form himself.
"It was just this nightmare of a poor, basically, FaceTime connection to a psychiatrist," Butler said.
Nina says the psychiatrist who had to confirm Nick could make that decision couldn't be there in person so they had to use a remote connection that's like FaceTime.
The entire process took 35 minutes.
Butler says the call was agonizing.
The CEO of several hospice centers in the area told News4 Nick Butler’s experience shouldn’t have happened the way it did.
Inova Loudoun Hospital released a statement, saying, “Due to HIPAA regulations, we cannot comment on specific patients or care received, but Inova does utilize telemedicine in certain situations to provide expeditious, specialized care for patients regardless of their location.”
Butler says she is sharing her experience to hopefully create change.
"I hope there's a real reflection in the medical community about the ethics of these teledoctors."