Monday, August 25, 2014

Legalization of 'assisted suicide' leading to increase in reports of involuntary deaths

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/legalization-of-assisted-suicide-leading-to-increase-in-reports-of/article_5d456780-2975-11e4-a660-0019bb2963f4.html

I am president of the Hospice Patients Alliance. We are a charitable patient advocacy organization acting to preserve the original hospice mission to promote quality care at the end of a person’s life. I am writing in response to Gail Bell’s letter describing medical personnel over-reaching which caused the death of her mother.  [To view Gail Bell's letter, go here ]

A hidden and disturbing issue that I see in my work is the misuse of “terminal,” “palliative” and/or “total” sedation to end the life of a patient who is not otherwise dying, often instigated by a family member who stands to gain.

Consider the 2012 case against Kaiser Health Care. According to an article describing court documents, doctors killed the patient, a wealthy older man, in four hours and 40 minutes through a “terminal extubation,” which included a morphine overdose that “effectively ended oxygen support.” The patient’s daughters had allegedly urged this result in order to obtain large inheritances. See William Dotinga, “Grim Complaint Against Kaiser Hospital,” Feb. 6, 2012, available at www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/06/43641.htm. Moreover, per the article, court documents say that the doctors’ actions “caused the death of a relatively healthy, wealthy man with many more years to live and love.“

In some cases, the imposed death is due to a doctor’s assessment of the patient’s “quality of life” as opposed to the patient’s desire to live. This is often the case if the patient is disabled or elderly, or declared incompetent. Assisted “suicide” in these cases is clearly imposed death.

With the push to legalize assisted suicide, I have seen increased reports of involuntary deaths. Now, Bell’s report.

Death with dignity is never achieved by imposing death through “stealth euthanasia” or assisted suicide.

Ron Panzer, president,
Hospice Patients Alliance,

Rockford, Michigan

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Montana's Law Protected Me

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/physician-assisted-suicide-no-support-from-this-quadriplegic/article_96fd887e-1e47-11e4-8c4c-001a4bcf887a.html

I have read the guest column, "People living with disabilities support death with dignity" (July 25), which advocates for legalizing assisted suicide and/or euthanasia for the disabled. I could be described as such a person and this opinion does not speak for me. I am strongly against legalizing these practices.

When I was in high school, I was on track to get a basketball scholarship to college. And then, I was in a car accident. The accident left me in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic. In addition to my paralysis, I had other difficulties. Over the next two or three years, I gave serious thought to suicide. And I had the means to do it, but both times I got close, I stopped myself.

If instead, my doctor, an authority figure, had told me that ending my life was a rational course, there might have been a different result. If instead, he had given me a lethal dose to ingest or offered to euthanize me, I might have gone along with it. But assisted suicide and euthanasia were not legal in Montana. Such courses were off the table.

So, instead, I went to college to seek a degree in education. While in college, I participated in wheelchair racing at the state, national and international levels. I met my husband and 21 years later the honeymoon is not over. We have three beautiful daughters and a new baby granddaughter. I am also active in my community.

Montana's law protected me and I hope it will stay in place to continue to protect me and others as we go through the sometimes hard times of life.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be legal.

Lucinda Hardy, Columbia Falls

Racing Wheelchair
As published in the Missoulian

I have read the guest column, "People living with disabilities support death with dignity" (July 25), which advocates for legalizing assisted suicide and/or euthanasia for the disabled. I could be described as such a person and this opinion does not speak for me. I am strongly against legalizing these practices.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mother's death provided painful, personal example of need to stop assisted suicide

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/mailbag/mother-s-death-provided-painful-personal-example-of-need-to/article_3c8a1d98-1a9c-11e4-bb8e-001a4bcf887a.html

The July 25 guest column by Sara Myers and Dustin Hankinson begins with a discussion of pain, “great pain,” specifically. The paragraph goes on to use the phrase “great pain” to justify “death with dignity,” meaning assisted suicide and euthanasia.

With their column, I couldn’t help but think of my mother’s last years and the decision of others that it was time for her to die. Pain was used as a justification for increases in her medication – to get the job done. This happened three times before she finally died in the hospital on Sept. 6, 2010. The coroner’s report, case No. 100906, lists the cause of death as congestive heart failure with oxygen deprivation and “fentanyl therapy.” The manner of death is listed as “accident.”

Fentanyl is reported “to be 80 to 200 times as potent as morphine.” It’s also well known that fentanyl patch problems cause overdoses, injuries and deaths. See www.aboutlawsuits.com/fentanyl-patch-problems-continue-overdose-deaths-55136. A 100 mcg/hour fentanyl patch has a range within 24 hours of 1.9-3.8 ng/mL. Mom’s death result was 2.7 ng/mL on/or about 48 hours.

A complaint was filed by me with the Montana Board of Medical Examiners, No. 2012-069-MED. The screening panel dismissed the complaint with prejudice, which means that the board may not consider the complaint in the future.

Since then, I have talked with other people who have had similar experiences involving the death of a family member via a medical overdose. Please see here:  www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/dont-give-doctors-more-power-to-abuse.html 

The column by Myers and Hankinson states, “I believe one should have control of one’s life including its ending.“

I agree with that statement. However, my mother did not have that control. Others dictated for her. Please rethink legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia so that we do not give others even more power to kill.

Gail Bell,
Bozeman