The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Doctors planned to take a covid patient off a ventilator. With 48 hours’ notice, his wife got a judge to stop them.

An image from a KMSP broadcast shows an undated photo of Scott Quiner, who has been battling a severe case of covid-19 for more than two months. (KMSP)
Placeholder while article actions load

Doctors told Anne Quiner last Tuesday — over her vehement objections — that they would take her husband off the ventilator she believed was keeping him alive. They planned to do it at noon Thursday.

Quiner had 48 hours to save her husband and would need almost all of them.

The next day, she sued Mercy Hospital, where doctors in the Coon Rapids, Minn., ICU had been treating her 55-year-old husband, Scott Quiner, for covid-19 for more than two months, according to court documents and a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for his medical care.

Her plea was simple: “Absent an Order from the court restraining Defendant Mercy hospital from turning off the ventilator, my husband will die.”

On Thursday, a judge signed just such an order. It came down at 10:34 a.m. — handing Quiner a victory with 1 hour 26 minutes to spare.

Quiner, who did not immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post, has since flown her husband to a hospital in Texas that agreed to care for him. Quiner’s lawyer, Marjorie Holsten, told The Post in an email that Scott Quiner’s new doctors have fed and hydrated him on top of giving him “the right kinds of medications that Mercy would not provide.” Holsten alleges that Quiner did not receive adequate nutrition while on the ventilator and lost 30 pounds as a result.

On Tuesday, Quiner was communicating with people by blinking, nodding and squeezing their hands, Holsten added.

“He is recovering, though has a long road ahead,” she said in the email, which did not specify which hospital was caring for him or which medications he had been prescribed.

It is unclear why doctors at Mercy wanted to take Quiner off the ventilator. A spokesperson for Allina Health, which runs Mercy Hospital, declined to talk about Quiner’s treatment there, citing patient privacy, but defended its medical care generally.

“Allina Health has great confidence in the exceptional care provided to our patients, which is administered according to evidence-based practices by our talented and compassionate medical teams,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Post. “Allina Health continues to wish the patient and family well.”

Scott Quiner was unvaccinated when he tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Oct. 30, according to the StarTribune and the GoFundMe page. At first, he was admitted to a hospital in Waconia, a city southwest of Minneapolis. When his oxygen levels did not improve, doctors put him on a ventilator and transferred him on Nov. 6 to Mercy Hospital’s ICU, where he remained for more than two months.

On Jan. 11, doctors told Anne Quiner they would take her husband off the ventilator at noon two days later, she said in court documents. As his medical representative, she said she “strongly objected.”

The next day, Quiner filed a petition in state court seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent doctors from turning off the ventilator. A judge granted it Jan. 13 about an hour and a half before doctors planned to do so, court records show.

On Saturday, Scott Quiner was flown to the Texas hospital, Holsten told The Post. The doctor who first saw Quiner there described him as “the most malnourished patient he had ever seen,” she said.

Holsten told KMSP that Scott Quiner’s recovery and the publicity around his case will force hospitals to provide better medical care to their patients.

“The world is watching what’s going on with Scott,” she told KMSP. “I’m hoping that changes are going to be made as a result of this case.”