Kept From a Dying Partner's Bedside

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May 18, 2009


"When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to be at the bedside. But what if the staff won't allow it?

"'I have this deep sense of failure for not being at Lisa's bedside when she died,' Ms. Langbehn said. 'How I get over that I don't know, or if I ever do.'

"The [Langbehn] case, now a subject of a federal lawsuit in Florida, is being watched by gay rights groups, which say same-sex partners often report being excluded from a patient's room because they aren't 'real' family members.

"In her lawsuit, Ms. Langbehn is being represented by Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. 'We want to send a message to hospitals,' said Beth Littrell, a lawyer for the group. 'If they don't treat families as such, if they don't let patients define their own circle of intimacy and give them the dignity and care to be with their loved ones in this sort of crisis, then they will be held accountable.'"