Saturday, August 30, 2014

Washington Post Puts the Spotlight on Hospice/Palliative Care Abuse

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Choice is an Illusion, President

Below and finally, a comprehensive article in a major paper describing what a lot of us know already, that non-consenting, non-dying people are being killed with morphine and other drugs under the guise of hospice/palliative care.  The article, excerpted below from the Washington Post, describes cases in the US. There are similar cases in Canada and the UK (e.g, the former "Liverpool Pathway").

There are a myriad of reasons why these cases occur, including mistakes and negligence, which is described in the Post article.  The wishes of heirs interested in a speedy inheritance and/or to get dad out of the way before he changes his will, can also be at play.  For a particularly egregious example, see William Dotinga, "Grim Complaint Against Kaiser Hospital," at http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/06/43641.htm


With hospice, eligibility is determined by a prediction of less than six months to live.  This is the same eligibility cutoff used for legal assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington State.  This is, however, just a prediction and there are many people deemed eligible who live longer than that and/or who are not dying.  See, e.g., the Washington Post article excerpted below and this article from the Seattle Weekly: "Terminal Uncertainty."  See also this affidavit from Oregon doctor Kenneth Stevens, MD and this affidavit from John Norton.

This hospice/palliative care abuse issue is important for itself, as well, as for its implications in the larger debate over assisted suicide/euthanasia legalization.  Consider, for example, the letter below from Washington State.  The author, the owner of a care facility, describes how since passage of Washington's assisted suicide law, doctors more readily resort to morphine, sometimes without consent.  He states:
Since [Washington's assisted suicide law] passed, we have . . .  noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment. Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the client's care. http://www.choiceillusion.org/2013/12/it-wasnt-father-saying-that-he-wanted.html
He also describes a general devaluation of older people, as follows:
Since our [assisted suicide] law was passed, I have also observed that some medical professionals are quick to write off older people as having no quality of life whereas in years past, most of the professionals we dealt with found joy in caring for them. Our clients reciprocated that joy and respect.  (Id.).
He concludes by asking readers to not make Washington's mistake of legalizing assisted suicide. He states:
Someday, we too will be old. I, personally, want to be cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable with these developments. Don't make our mistake.  (Id.).
* * *
Below, the excerpt from the Washington Post article.

As More Hospices Enroll Patients who Aren't Dying, Questions About Lethal Doses Arise

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/21/as-more-hospices-enroll-patients-who-arent-dying-questions-about-lethal-doses-arise/?

By Peter Whoriskey at peter.whoriskey@washpost.com

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bradley Williams takes on Compassion & Choices: Assisted suicide is not legal, not the answer.

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/assisted-suicide-is-not-legal-not-the-answer/article_445e36c4-2944-11e4-991c-001a4bcf887a.html

For a print version to use as a handout, please click here
For a follow up letter by Bradley Williams, please click here.

I take exception to the opinion by two members of the former Hemlock Society, now known as “Compassion & Choices.” The opinion of July 25 implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, which is not true.

I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. We are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board. As part of that litigation, we got the board to remove a position paper from its website implying that assisted suicide is legal. Assisted suicide is not legal.
The “treatment” of suicide
As part of our litigation with the board, we also obtained an affidavit from Dr. Ken Stevens, of Oregon, which is one of the few states in which assisted suicide is legal. His affidavit describes how, in Oregon, that state’s Medicaid program uses legal assisted suicide to steer patients to suicide. This is through coverage incentives. The program will not necessarily cover a treatment to cure a disease or to extend a patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. In other words, with legal assisted suicide, desired treatments are displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.  [To view Dr. Stevens' affidavit, go here]
Backing the establishment
The former Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices, touts itself as the great promoter of individual choice. But if you take a closer look, its actual mission is to back the medical-government establishment.
Consider the well-publicized case of Oregon cancer patient Barbara Wagner. In 2008, Oregon’s Medicaid program declined to cover “Tarceva,” a cancer drug recommended by her doctor, and offered to cover her suicide instead, terming it “aid in dying.” Wagner was devastated.
“It was horrible,” Wagner told ABCNews.com. "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die.  But we won't give you the medication to live." http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492
The drug’s manufacturer subsequently gave Tarceva to Wagner without charge. She, nonetheless, died a short time later.
I recently asked Stevens about Tarceva. He told me that some of his patients had taken it and that for some of them it was beneficial. This was in terms of survival and better quality of life. He also told me that it can be difficult to know how a particular cancer patient will do on a particular cancer drug. He said that there are always some patients who live longer than expected, sometimes 10 or even 20 years longer, depending on the type of cancer. He said, “This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.” Barbara Wagner had wanted to be one of those people.
After Wagner’s death, Compassion & Choices stepped forward to show its true colors. Specifically, its president, Barbara Coombs Lee, published an opinion in Oregon’s largest paper taking issue with Wagner’s choice to try and live. Coombs Lee argued that Wagner should have instead given up hope and accepted her pending death. But, this was not Wagner’s choice.  [To view Coombs Lee's opinion piece, go here]
In a KATU TV interview (www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html), Wagner had said: “I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die ... I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”
A public policy to discourage cures
Coombs Lee’s opinion piece also argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures. This would presumably be through coverage incentives. For example, she said: “The burning public policy question is whether we inadvertently encourage patients to act against their own self-interest, chase an unattainable dream of cure, and foreclose the path of acceptance that curative care has been exhausted.”  [See opinion piece, page 2]
Coombs Lee is a former “managed care executive.” See (http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/coombsleebio.pdf )
Your choice is not assured by their legislation. Don’t be fooled by their double-speak.
* * *
 Bradley Williams is president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org), a grassroots group and a Montana nonprofit public benefit association. MAAS welcomes everyone opposed to assisted suicide regardless of their views on other issues.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mother was deprived of choice to live; assisted suicide would lead to more patient abuse

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_09c08760-817c-571a-ada1-d42a0e2a3450.html?comment_form=true


August 18, 2014 6:15 am  

The letter by Gail Bell rang true to my own experience (“Mother’s death provided painful, personal example of need to stop assisted suicide,” Aug. 5).

In 2009, my mother died a painful death. It wasn’t from her condition or a disease. You see, my mother was starved and dehydrated to death with massive doses of morphine after she’d had a mild stroke. It had not mattered that she had been trying to speak and had indicated that she wanted water. The family member holding power of attorney, affirmed by a young doctor, had decided that it was time for her to die.

I watched my mother die, day and night for six days. She tried to fight, to wake up, but to no avail, and she suffered. To use the vernacular of assisted suicide proponents, she did not get her choice.

If these terrible deaths happen when aid in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal, what will happen if these practices are made legal? Doctors will have even more power to take away patient choice. If we can’t stop the abuse now, how will we be able to stop the abuse then?

In 2009, I first published my mother’s story, which can be viewed here www.choiceillusion.org/p/mild-stroke-led-to-mothers-forced.html.

I have since been contacted by adult children in both the U.S. and Canada whose parents were involuntarily starved and dehydrated to death. I hope that this practice can be stopped before it is too late. I offer my heartfelt condolences to Gail Bell.

Kate Kelly,
Delta, British Columbia, Canada

Friday, August 8, 2014

Minnesota prosecutors try to prove man's online chats assisted in suicides of depressed people


By Associated Press, Updated: August 8, 2014 - 2:20 PM

Image result for nadia kajouji
Nadia Kajouji,
FARIBAULT, Minn. — Prosecutors in Minnesota argued Friday that a former nurse should be convicted of assisting suicide for sending emails and other online communications in which he urged two people to kill themselves and gave them information on how to do it.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 52, of Faribault, was back in court more than three years after he was convicted of encouraging suicides. The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this year reversed those convictions, saying the state's law against encouraging or advising suicides was too broad.

The high court however upheld part of the law that makes it a crime to assist someone's suicide, and attorneys for both sides returned to Rice County District Court to argue over whether Melchert-Dinkel's conduct qualified.

Melchert-Dinkel was originally convicted in 2011 in the deaths of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, and Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. Kajouji jumped into an icy river in 2008 and Drybrough hanged himself in 2005.

Evidence at that trial showed Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and sought out depressed people online, posing as a suicidal female nurse, faking compassion and offering detailed instructions on how they could kill themselves. Police said he told them he did it for "the thrill of the chase."

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

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