Sunday, March 5, 2017

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agendas; Patient Choice Not Assured

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

People who assist a suicide or euthanasia can have their own agendas. In Oregon, there is the Thomas Middleton case, in which legal physician-assisted suicide was part of an elder abuse fraud.[1 & 2]

Consider also People v. Stuart where an adult child killed her parent under circumstances that “dovetail[ed]” with the child’s financial interests.[3] The Court stated:
[F]inancial considerations [are] an all too common motivation for killing someone.[4]
Doctors, too, can have an agenda, for example, to hide malpractice: Get rid of the patient, get rid of the problem. There is also the occasional doctor who just likes to kill people. A prominent example is Dr. Michael Swango. With his status as a physician, his supervisors were unwilling to believe his accusers.[5] It was many years and many victims later before he was held accountable.[6] One commentary states:
How was it possible for Swango to go on for so long [?] [Author James B.] Stewart credits Swango's considerable gift for lying and manipulation. But the real fault rests, he argues, with medical authorities, . . . who, with some honorable exceptions, closed ranks in misplaced professional solidarity. They feared publicity. They feared lawsuits, not only by patients and their families but also by Swango. A snobbery of the professional class system asserted itself: Medical authorities tended to believe a doctor's word over nurses' eyewitness accounts.[7]

[1]  See “Sawyer Arraigned on State Fraud Charges,”, 07/14/11 ("Middleton deeded his home to the trust and directed [Sawyer] to make it a rental until the real estate market improved. Instead, Sawyer signed documents that month to list the property for sale, two days after Middleton died by physician-assisted suicide.  The property sold in October of that year for more than $200,000, the documents show, and it was deposited into [accounts for Sawyer’s benefit]").
[2]  See also: AP, "Former Bend real estate agent, husband plead guilty," 01/15/13; Barney Lerten, "State dropping Tami Sawyer fraud case" DOJ says prosecution would likely not add time behind bars,", updated September 1, 2016.
[3]  People v. Stuart, 67 Cal.Rptr.3d 129 (2007).
[4]  Id., at 143.
[5]  James B. Stewart, “Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away With Murder,” New York: Simon & Schuster.
[6]  Id.
[7]  Lance Morrow, “Dr. Death: James B. Stewart tells the true story of a physician who is under investigation for killing patients,” The New York Times, August 29, 1999.