Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian may appear to be split on reality TV, but on paper, their divorce is not final.
That could leave the former NBA player's estranged wife with the role of making medical decisions for him.
Odom, who has an address in Henderson, and Kardashian both signed off on their divorce in July, but the case has not even been assigned to a judge in the backlogged Los Angeles court system. A court spokeswoman said Thursday that a final resolution can take months.
The judgment packet has been received and awaits a review by a judicial officer, and there are no hearings scheduled at this time, said Mary Eckhardt Hearn, director of public information for Los Angeles Superior Court.
Former L.A. Lakers forward Odom was found unconscious Tuesday at a brothel in Nye County. He remains at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, according to several people who have visited him and spoken to the media afterward.
But officially, Odom is not registered as a patient at Sunrise — a status that is his right through federal laws designed to shield patient information from the public.
Anyone who calls asking about Odom will be told his information does not appear on the hospital registry, the same answer someone would get if he wasn't a patient there at all.
None of the information released about Odom has come from a family or hospital source.
"Only information that comes from a hospital spokesperson is considered legitimate information," said Stacy Acquista, a marketing executive with the Far West Division of HCA, the company that owns Sunrise.
Odom's condition was not immediately available.
Who can make medical decisions?
Nevada law spells out who will make medical decisions for patients who become incapacitated. Lawyers call them substituted judgment statutes. Here, spouses or registered domestic partners are first in line.
If Odom does not have advanced directives — legal documents spelling out his health care choices — Kardashian would be the go-to decision maker. Forms of advanced directives include living wills and medical powers of attorney, which allow people to make their wishes known to family, friends and health care professionals to avoid confusion in case calamity strikes.
"He could have advanced directives, and those directives would apply," Las Vegas certified elder law attorney Kim Boyer said Thursday. "When you have advanced directives, you're choosing the person you want to be making your decisions for you."
Prominent cases can draw attention to the importance of advanced directives.
"In these cases, it can get very heated and very contested," Boyer said. "When something like this happens in the media, people say, 'Oh, man, I don't want this to happen."
TV vans remain parked across Maryland Parkway from Sunrise on Thursday, and reports continued to be filed around the clock on Odom's status. Most of those updates came from entertainment-focused outlets and ran the gamut from an improving condition to being brain dead. One of the most prominent reports came from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said he visited Odom on Wednesday and that he appeared to be getting better. But Jackson is not an official spokesman for the former NBA star.
A Las Vegas-based public relations and marketing professional said offering regular, official updates on the condition of a prominent patient can tamp down rumors and false information.
Dave Kirvin, a partner in Kirvin Doak Communications, was part of the crisis management team during an even bigger media frenzy, after Roy Horn was attacked by a tiger in October 2003 at a performance of Siegfried & Roy at The Mirage.
"Two things abhor a vacuum: One is nature, and the other is the 24-hour news cycle," Kirvin said. "You can act like that media frenzy isn't going on, and you can try to ignore it, but it's going to happen whether you participate in it or not."
Patients and families can decide whether they want to share information, and the decision to release that data sometimes is delayed because of the shock and embarrassment involving an injury or illness.
"By not communicating information, you run into a situation where rumors become news," Kirvin said. "Sources become the leading provider of information. I don't think that's in anyone's best interest."
No one from the Kardashian family has spoken publicly about Odom's condition, but Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said the family members were distraught after they were told about Odom's medical episode.
Kourtney Kardashian tweeted a photo of Odom and one of her children, saying she was praying for "this beautiful soul." Captions for photos of some Kardashian family members said they were in Las Vegas.
Investigators with the Nye County sheriff's office said Wednesday that the 35-year-old Odom had been using cocaine and sexual performance enhancers days before he was found unconscious at Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, about 30 miles north of Pahrump.
A stay in the suite Odom rented, which was a two-bedroom trailer, would cost five figures, a brothel spokesman said.
Dennis Hof, who owns Love Ranch and at least six other brothels in Nevada, said Odom never did drugs in front of any of his staff because it's forbidden.
Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution. Counties regulate the businesses and can revoke licenses if brothels get into trouble with drugs.
The sheriff's office played a recording of a 911 call in which one of Hof's staffers says Odom had not used cocaine since Saturday, the day he got to Love Ranch. Hof acknowledged Odom drank alcohol and took sexual enhancement products, some of which he got at the brothel.
Investigators got a warrant to test Odom's blood, the sheriff's office said. That's been booked into evidence.
Doctors advise patients who take sexual performance enhancers not to mix them with alcohol.
Besides his time with the 2009 and 2010 NBA Championship Lakers, Odom is well known for being part of the Kardashian family. He has appeared in on E!'s "Keeping up the the Kardashians" about the whole family, including former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, and "Khloe and Lamar," about the couple.
Khloe Kardashian filed for divorce in 2013 after four years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.
Contact Steven Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4563.