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
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
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,