Monday, February 24, 2014

Concerns about assisted suicide include hiding malpractice and "lazy doctoring."

I am a general medical practitioner, with 30 years experience. I was glad to see that Montanans Against Assisted Suicide has decided to appeal its case with the Montana Medical Examiner Board to the Montana Supreme Court. My hope is that the appeal will end the controversy about assisted suicide possibly being legal in Montana.

My concerns about legalizing assisted suicide include that it will encourage "lazy doctoring." I say this because it is easier for a doctor to write a prescription (to end the patient's life,) as opposed to doing the sometimes hard work of figuring out what is wrong with a patient and providing treatment. I am also concerned that legalization will give bad doctors the opportunity to hide malpractice by convincing a patient to take his or her life.

The American Medical Association, Ethics Opinion No. 2.211, states: "Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

I agree with this statement. Allowing legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Montana will compromise and corrupt my profession. Legalization will also put the lives and well-being of my patients at risk.

Carley C. Robertson, MD
Havre MT