Previously Featured Articles

“Pitt: New stroke treatment could reduce number of deaths”
(Pittsburgh Tribune Review — February 11, 2015)
Thousands of people might survive a stroke with a clot-killing method explored in part at the University or Pittsburgh….”We call it a game-changer because, up until now, there’s only been one proven, effective therapy for acute stroke,” said Dr. Lawrence Wechsler, a study co-investigator and the neurology chairman at Pitt and PRMC.

“Nurse Daniela Poggiali suspected of killing 38 ‘annoying’ patients”
(Sydney Morning Herald — October14, 2014)
Italian police have arrested a nurse suspected of killing up to 38 patients because she found them or their relatives annoying….
[P]olice had found a disturbing selfie on Poggiali’s phone showing her giving a thumbs-up in front of a recently deceased patient.

“Cancer-stricken officer’s ‘final mission’ — help vets”
(USA Today)
An Army officer stricken with terminal cancer is fighting for his life — and the lives of others.  Capt. Justin Fitch said he wants to use his last days to reverse the epidemic of veteran suicide.
“Every single day that I have here on this Earth is a gift, and I want to use it as well as possible,” said Fitch, who was speaking slowly in a phone interview with Army Times on July 31, one day after his latest round of chemotherapy.

“Hitchcock thriller reveals busy mind in ‘vegetative’ man”
(Nature — September 15, 2014)
Ever since the 34-year-old man lost consciousness at age 16 after being assaulted, his father has taken him to the cinema every Wednesday.  “The fact that we can say he is enjoying these movies, he can understand these movies, says something about his quality of life” Owen says.

“Should doctors help people die? Another perspective”
(Milwaukee Journal – September 6, 2014)
Proponents argue that it is necessary to eliminate physical suffering, while admitting that the vast majority of those who request to die do so for emotional suffering, including a fear of future suffering or loss of control…. And always, somewhere, proponents remind us about how much it costs to care for people who are terminally ill, handicapped or elderly.

“The Progressive Case Against Assisted Suicide”
(Huffington Post — August 4, 2014)
I also reject the attempt by a small group of wealthy elites trying to turn assisted suicide into some right-wing or religious debate….We must all take a skeptical look and acknowledge the role that money and power play in end-of-life decisions, and how assisted suicide is being used by some health care companies and decision-makers to increase their bottom line by denying treatment.

“At These Hospitals, Recovery Is Rare, but Comfort Is Not”
(New York Times — June 23, 2014)
The man was a patient at the Hospital for Special Care here, one of 400 long-term care hospitals in the United States….Some, especially those recovering from accidents, eventually will leave.  Others will be here for the rest of their lives.
For a list of long-term-care hospitals go to the CMS website.  Scroll down to the bottom and click on the link “List of LTCHs”.

“A Trial of ICU Care: a true end-of-life story”
(Geriatrics for Caregivers — June 13, 2014)
He was DNR and we had planned for comfort care once his symptoms got worse. But when he fell dangerously ill, I ended up advocating for him to go into the Intensive Care Unit….Three days later, Mr. H was discharged back there, where he re-engaged in his favorite activities….

“With assisted suicide, context is everything”
Globe and Mail — June 6, 2014)
I am an oncologist, and I am Jewish.  Fortunately, at this moment, I am not terminally ill, nor do I bear an incurable disease. By virtue of my profession and my age, death, suffering and the indignity that can go with it are familiar to me.
That is my perspective. I lead with that declaration, because when it comes to the business of assisted suicide, context is everything.

“1 in 5 Elderly U.S. Patients Injured by Medical Care”
(HealthDay — May 27, 2014)
Nearly one in five Medicare patients are victims of medical injuries that often aren’t related to their underlying disease or condition, according to new research.
More on Medicare

“Should doctors take part in executions”
(BioEdge — May 23, 2014)
It is unethical for American physicians to participate in executions, according to a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association….”Regardless of whether execution is justified…it must never be perceived as a medical procedure.”
Of course, this begs the question of physician involvement in assisted suicide.

“Arizona College Student Bounces Back From The Dead After Nearly Giving Organs”
(ABC News — May 16, 2014)
Two years ago, Sam Schmid’s close encounter with death was called a “Christmas miracle.” As he lay in a coma after sustaining massive brain injuries in a car crash, doctors were discussing organ donation with his parents and ready to take him off life support.  Schmid astounded those at his hospital bedside who thought he was brain dead…
More on Organ Donation

“Terminal neglect? How some hospices decline to treat the dying”
(Washington Post — May 3, 2014)
For more than a million patients every year, the burgeoning U.S. hospice industry offers the possibility of a peaceful death, typically at home. But that promise depends upon patients getting the medical attention they need in a crisis…..
Hospices are among the least inspected organizations in the U.S. health-care system, with most operating for years before an inspector calls.

“You’re on the clock: Doctors rush patients out the door”
(USA Today — April 20, 2014)
“Doctors are thinking, ‘I have to meet my bottom line, pay my overhead, pay my staff and keep my doors open. So it’s a hamster wheel, and they’re seeing more and more patients…..And what ends up happening is the 15-minute visit,” he said.

“One-third of vegetative patients may be conscious: study”
(Macleans – Canada)
“Vegetative” – the doctors think you’re completely unresponsive and unaware, but they’re wrong. As many as one-third of vegetative patients are misdiagnosed, according to a new study in The Lancet.
Kate Bainbridge, who was one of the first vegetative patients examined by [British neuroscientist Adrian] Owen, was given a scan that showed her brain lighting up in response to images of her family.  Her health improved. “I can’t say how lucky I was to have the scan,” she said in an email.

“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?

“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.

“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.