Latest additions to web site: 4/21/14

“You’re on the clock: Doctors rush patients out the door”
(USA Today — April 20, 2014)
“Doctors have one eye on the patient, and one eye on the clock,” said David Rothman, who studies the history of medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons….No one knows exactly why 15 minutes became the norm….”  “We’re all sort of like lemmings,” Lickerman said. [Alex Lickerman is an internist who has taught medical students at the University of Chicago.] “We’ve seen that everyone else is doing it so it must be the right thing to do.”
Comment:  With 15 minutes being the average time for a patient visit, how is it possible for the in-depth doctor-patient “conversation” that POLST advocates claim is part of the process when a POLST form is completed?

A booklet discussing the POLST form is now available.  To obtain a copy, call the PRC (800-958-5678 or 740-282-3810) between 8:30am and 4:30pm (eastern time).

Scroll down for Update, for Recent Developments, and for Featured Articles.
For additional information, see Site Map.

Who will speak for you?
Imagine you are in an accident tomorrow and so seriously injured that you aren’t able to communicate about your health care wishes for several weeks. Who would make health care decisions for you during that time? Do you need an advance directive?

To obtain a durable power of attorney for health care for the state in which you are a resident, call the Patients Rights Council (800-958-5678 or 740-282-3810) between 8:30am and 4:30pm (eastern time).

The Latest PRC Update (2014 – Volume 28, No. 2,):

  • Belgium does the unthinkable, then shocked at the world’s reaction
  • Election call kills Quebec’s dangerous euthanasia bill
  • New Mexico district judge declares assisted suicide a fundamental right
  • Current status of U.S. doctor-assisted suicide bills
  • Oregon’s 2013 assisted-suicide report: Not a true picture
  • Reported Assisted-Suicide Deaths in Oregon 1998-2013
  • Preventing (Some) Suicides
  • A Place for Mom touted assisted suicide
  • New studies look at advance directives & surrogates
  • Canadian court rules assisted spoon feeding is not a health care treatment
  • News briefs from home & abroad
    View as plain text.  View as PDF

Recent Major Developments

“Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors”
(New York Times — April 17, 2014)
In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing…..They [the cardiology societies] plan to rate the value of treatments based on cost per quality-adjusted life-year, or QALY– a method used in Britain and by many health economists.
More on Cost Containment    More on Obamacare

“Pharmacists sometimes refuse to give doctors euthanasia drugs”
(Dutch News — April 16, 2014)
Most refusals concern “controversial” cases, i.e. patients who have dementia, a psychiatric illness or who consider their lives “complete.”
More on Holland

“Swiss suicide clinic helped SECOND woman ‘tired of life’ to die”
(Express — UK — April 13, 2014)
The 99-year-old, who was not terminally ill or severely disabled, felt her time had come to an end.
More on Switzerland

“Belgian intensive care doctors back involuntary euthanasia”
(BioEdge — April 11, 2014)
Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine.  The lead author of the policy said that doctors need to be able to give lethal injections to shorten lives which are no longer worth living, even if the patients have not given their consent.
More on Belgium

“Teacher died at Dignitas because she couldn’t bear modern life”
(Daily Mail — April 7, 2014)
The 89-year-old, from Sussex, said she couldn’t keep up with modern life.  She claimed new technology had ruined face-to-face human relationships.  She was neither terminally ill nor disabled, but ended life at Swiss Clinic.
More on United Kingdom     More on Switzerland

“Cuts risk returning disabled to the shadows, says Baroness Campbell”
(The Telegraph — April 5, 2014)
Jane Campbell has spent the last half century defying the odds.  When she was 11 months old, doctors diagnosed her with severe spinal muscular atrophy and told her parents to enjoy what little time she had left…[She] now sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords as Baroness Campbell of Surbiton. So it should come as no surprise that, in the House of Lords this week, this remarkable fighter positioned herself at the head of the battle to stop the Government cutting the funding that enables her, and around 18,000 of the most severely disabled people in the country, to thrive in their lives and careers.
More on Disability Perspective

“Stroke Patient Hears Doctors Discuss Organ Donation”
(ABC News — April 5, 2014)
A Swedish man who was paralyzed by a massive stroke has filed a complaint against the hospital that cared for him because he claimed he could hear doctors discussing whether to donate his organs just before they gave him a sedative that put him under. According to Fritze, they told his then-girlfriend to get his family and say their goodbyes.
More on Organ Donation

“Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead Died Trying to Escape Morgue Freezer, Lawsuit Alleges”
(Huffington Post — April 4, 2014)
A California family who claims a loved one was prematurely declared dead, and then “frozen alive” while trying to escape a morgue freezer, has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.
More on California

“Mexican authorities accuse Knights Templar of organ harvesting racket”
(Bioedge — April 4, 2014)
Last Tuesday, Mexican police arrested a senior member of the Knights Templar crime syndicate, alleged to have kidnapped children to harvest their organs.
[The arrest was previously reported in USA Today.]
“Police nab cartel member in organ trafficking case”
(USA Today — March 17, 2014)
Ring would kidnap children, take them to homes to have organs removed, official said.
More on Organ Transplant

“Illinois’ nutty POLST bill”
(POLST-views blogspot — March 31, 2014)
The bill describes who can have a POLST form:
“An individual of sound mind and having reached the age of majority or having obtained the status of an emancipated person to the Emancipation of Minors Act may execute a document (consistent with the Department of Public Health Uniform POLST form….) directing that resuscitation efforts not be implemented.”
That’s it. No suggestion that the individual be likely to die within a year.  No requirement that the individual have a serious illness or chronic frailty.
More on POLST

“Advocates concede defeat on aid-in-dying bill in 2014″
(CT Mirror — March 25, 2014)
The campaign for passage of an aid-in-dying law in Connecticut in 2014 ended Tuesday with a concession that the bill does not have the support in the legislature’s Public Health Committee to reach the House floor.
More on Connecticut

“Editorial: AG makes right choice in aid-in-dying appeal”
(Albuquerque Journal — March 17, 2014)
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is right to ask the state Court of Appeals to weigh in on a recent District Court ruling that bans prosecution of physicians if they assist terminally ill patients in dying….In filing the appeal, King says that if people want to change that law, the Legislature is the proper venue to make that change.  He has said previous efforts to enact aid-in-dying laws have failed to clear committee.
More on New Mexico

“Drug Rationing for Seniors Begins”
(American Spectator — February 24, 2014)
Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major stop toward rationing medications to the elderly.
More on Obamacare

“Company blocked from selling execution drug to Mo.”
(Star Tribune — February 12, 2014)
A federal judge agreed late Wednesday to temporarily block an Oklahoma pharmacy from providing an execution drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections….[because] it would likely cause “severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain.”
[The drug is pentobarbitol which is the same drug that, according to the latest official report, was the lethal medication for  90.1% of doctor-prescribed suicides in Oregon in the last year.]
Latest official Oregon report.  See page 6
More on Oregon

Featured Articles

“How do you neutralize death?
(Windsor Star — March 21, 2014)
Can death be neutralized by dumbing down the words euthanasia or assisted suicide to “aid in dying?”

“Bioethics and the Dogma of ‘Brain Death’”
(Hastings Center Bioethics Forum — February 2014)
While brain death is legally recognized as death in all 50 states, we are not alone in arguing that the “brain dead” remain alive in view of the biological conception of death established within medicine….We submit that no bioethics commentary on cases involving “brain death” is intellectually acceptable in the absence of acknowledging that there is vigorous controversy in the field over the determination of death and the status of those diagnosed as “brain dead”.
More on Organ Donation and Organ Transplantation

“Insane Conversations — talking to children about euthanasia”
What would prompt a child to ask?
Think about why it would be that the specialist medical practitioner or the parents would come to a point where whey thought it was necessary to tell the child (or remind the child) about euthanasia as an option.
More on Belgium

“Assisted suicide — what could possibly go wrong?”
(Globe and Mail — Canada — February 20, 2014)
A service launched by a right-to-die group [in the Netherlands] has 30 mobile teams that make house calls to people who want to die but whose family doctors may be unwilling to participate. One of the people its staff put to death was a 63-year-old man who had no friends ot family and couldn’t face the prospect of retirement.  Another was a 54-year-old woman with a pathological fear of germs.
More on Holland

“Wrong On Assisted Suicide In Oregon”
(Courant — February 11, 2014)
Michael Freeland had a history of depression and past suicide attempts, but still got a prescription. When two Oregon nurses assisted a suicide with no doctor or proof of patient consent, nothing happened to them. These and many other documented failures of the safeguards in the assisted suicide law don’t show up in the state reports.
More on Oregon

“Patient Harm: When An Attorney Won’t Take Your Case”
(Pro Publica — January 6, 2014)
A 2013 Emory University School of Law Study found that 95 percent of patients who seek an attorney for harm suffered during medical treatment will be shut out of the legal system, primarily for economic reasons.

“‘But Doctor, I Want to Live’: The Other Side Of The ‘Dignified Death’ Debate” 
(Forbes — December 18, 2013)
Both my uncle and the  elderly lady profiled above were able to resist unreasonable physician pressure and successfully exert their autonomy.  What about the many other patients who are persuaded — bullied? — into declining treatments they might actually desire?

“John Kelly Talks About the Tim Bowers Case”
(Not Dead Yet — December 5, 2013)
Bowers is the Indiana hunter who was injured in a fall and died the next day when he told doctors to stop life support….I have almost exactly the same injury as Bowers and I know that reliable prognosis requires the passage of time.
More on disability perspective

“The Ultimate End-of-Life Plan”
(Wall Street Journal — September 6, 2013)
My mother died shortly before her 85th birthday….She did not die a perfect death. But she died a “good enough” death, thanks to choices she made earlier that seemed brutal at the time.

“Observation stays don’t count for Medicare coverage, many seniors harshly learn”
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — August 24, 2013)
Betty Rickett was surprised by a $15,000 nursing home bill after spending three days in a hospital for a broken ankle in 2009.
What she didn’t know was that time spent in a hospital bed under observation doesn’t count toward the three-day minimum needed for Medicare coverage — and being under observation does not count.
More on Medicare and Medicaid

“Physician-Assisted Suicide Is Not Progressive”
(The Atlantic — Ira Byock — October 2012)
In today’s “Newspeak” the Hemlock Society morphed into Compassion and Choices, which promotes “death with dignity” and objects to the word “suicide,” preferring “aid-in-dying” and “self-deliverance.” These terms sound more wholesome, but the undisguised act is a morally primitive, socially regressive, response to basic human needs.

“If Medicare Tells You ‘No’”
(Wall Street Journal — October 18, 2012)
There are several things Medicare beneficiaries can do to reduce their costs….[O]ne that most beneficiaries don’t pursue  is appealing denied medical claims.  While the appeals process can be complicated and time-consuming, those who press their cases enjoy relatively high success rates.
More on Medicare and Medicaid

“Physician-Assisted Suicide in Oregon: A Medical Perspective”
( Michigan Law Review, Vol. 106 – June 8, 2008 )
While previous articles have examined assisted suicide from legal and ethical perspectives, this article examines the Oregon law from a medical perspective.  More

“Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide & Health Care Decisions: Protecting Yourself & Your Family.”
Table of Contents
Part 1
: Detailed and extensively documented report about the latest in attempts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, along with tips for addressing these topics.
Part 2: Facts and practical information about advance directives including the difference between the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Have you heard about VSED?  
It stands for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. VSED is being promoted by assisted-suicide activists who are also working to force health care providers to participate in it.  Important Questions & Answers about VSED

From the bookshelf…
Twenty years ago, Ann Humphry, the co-founder of the Hemlock Society (now called Compassion and Choices) committed suicide. Her death made headlines worldwide.

Prior to her death, Ann contacted Rita Marker, a staunch euthanasia opponent. Over time, the two became close friends, and Ann asked Rita to make public secrets about the right-to-die movement — secrets that had weighed heavily on Ann.

Two years after Ann’s tragic death, the book, Deadly Compassion: The Death of Ann Humphry and the Truth About Euthanasia was published. It recounts Ann’s personal story, the founding of the Hemlock Society, and activities of euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide advocates. Thousands of copies of the book were sold in the United States, England, Canada and Australia. (Read excerpts from reviews of the book.)

Now, for the first time, you can read Deadly Compassion in its entirety on line in PDF format.