Media Erroneously Indicate Netherlands Euthanasia Cases Decreasing (2007)

A recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 10, 2007) has been reported by the media as stating that the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands has dropped since it was formally legalized in 2002. When reading the actual report we learn of a different reality than the media has reported. The report states that in 2001, the year before euthanasia was formally legalized in the Netherlands, there were approximately 3500 (2.6%) euthanasia deaths, there were approximately 300 (0.2%) assisted suicide deaths and approximately 8500 (5.6%) deaths by terminal sedation (sedation followed by dehydration). The report states that in 2005 there were approximately 2325 (1.7%) euthanasia deaths, there were approximately 100 (0.1%) assisted suicide deaths and approximately 9685 (7.1%) deaths by terminal sedation. It seems that the decreased incidence of active euthanasia was replaced by the increase in deaths by terminal sedation in the Netherlands. The other fact in the study is that approximately 550 (0.4%) of deaths resulted from the ending of life without explicit request. These numbers are not part of the euthanasia numbers because they lack the requirement of voluntary request and therefore they are placed in a separate category. This number appears to have remained steady since 2001. The practice of terminal sedation needs to be separated from decisions to sedate patients without the explicit intention of causing death. In 2005 there were another 1.1% of deaths whereby the patient was sedated without the explicit intention of causing death. [16May07, Alex Schadenberg,...

Extinguishing Physician Conscience (2009)

The largest generational cohort in American history, the Baby Boomers, will be the first Americans to be denied available effective life-saving treatments for reasons of cost. The seeds for this mass liquidation have already been planted. Imagine that it is 2016, and you are a 65 year old boomer. You have been admitted to your local community hospital with malaise, fatigue, vomiting and cloudy mental status. You have had blood pressure problems and diabetes for a few years, and have just been diagnosed with renal failure. As you drift in and out of consciousness, you are vaguely aware your old family practice physician, who had taken care of you for 20 years, is not around. A religious man, he quietly retired from medical practice in 2014, after the full force of the Obama administration‘s removal of conscience protection for physicians in February, 2009, came into effect. You feel vaguely uncomfortable as you are placed in a darkened room in the Comfort Care wing of the hospital. In moments of lucidity, you wonder if you shouldn’t have some oxygen, an IV or SOMETHING! But the appropriate therapy, kidney dialysis, is not on the approved list of treatments for patients over 65, having been deemed too expensive. The new regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services were presented just last month to your hospital’s Futile Care Committee. It was decided at the highest levels that for those over 65 years of age, renal dialysis would not be a beneficial treatment, that the alternatives of a kidney transplant were too expensive, and that your quality of life on chronic dialysis...

Proper Palliative Sedation Not Same as Morphed Definition of “Terminal Sedating” into Coma to End Lives (2010)

[ed. Terminal Sedation is meant to be used to provide relief for agitation when nothing else works. This definition has morphed into sedating into a coma with the intent to end lives.] by Wesley J. Smith (below), with response by Ron Panzer Comment from Ron Panzer: Ron Panzer, President of Hospice Patients Alliance was asked to respond to Smith’s article by advocate and journalist, Matt Abbott. http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott Wesley Smith is on the right track, but clearly not a nurse who has worked in hospice and dealt with patients at the end-of-life. He confuses the terms “terminal sedation,” “palliative sedation” and what is supposed to occur and what is being done in the name of either. And “terminal sedation” or “palliative sedation” was NEVER mainly used as a pain control method. It was mostly used in the case of agitated patients, and to a lesser extent, for patients whose pain could not be managed well otherwise. What was always known before as “terminal sedation,” was properly applied for certain clinical conditions: the sedating of a patient whose extreme agitation (called “terminal agitation at the end-of-life”), delusional or psychotic state, or extreme pain could not be managed any other way, making him a danger to himself or others, or allowing his continued suffering. This “terminal sedation” properly protects the patient from himself and helps to achieve relief from those distressing symptoms. There is nothing in the original use of “terminal sedation” that required the patient to be denied artificial fluid and nutrition through a feeding tube, IV or other route. The new use of “terminal sedation intentionally to end lives” is...

Doctors’ Religious Beliefs Affect End-of-Life Decisions: UK Survey (2010)

The religious beliefs of doctors strongly influence the decisions they make when caring for terminally ill patients, according to research published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Dr. Clive Seale, a professor at the Centre for Health Sciences, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, conducted a postal survey of 3733 UK medical practitioners, 2923 of whom reported on the care of their last patient who died. Dr. Seale found that “doctors who described themselves as non-religious were more likely than others to report having given continuous deep sedation until death, having taken decisions they expected or partly intended to end life.” Many of the doctors surveyed were specialists in geriatrics or palliative care, though doctors in other specialties were included in the study. Significantly, the report stated that “doctors in ‘other hospital’ specialities” were “almost 10 times as likely to report this (decisions taken with some intent to end life) when compared with palliative medicine specialists, regardless of religious faith.” A BBC report released last year said that the use of continuous deep sedation, also known as “terminal sedation” is becoming more common in the UK and may be the way physicians are skirting the law prohibiting direct euthanasia. BBC News health correspondent Adam Brimelow said that 16.5 percent of all deaths in the UK are associated with continuous deep sedation, a number twice that of Belgium and the Netherlands, both of which have legalized direct euthanasia. Alex Schadenberg, the director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has said that continuous deep sedation can be used ethically in cases of dying patients to alleviate intractable pain, such...

Oregon Hospices Were Not Participating in Assisted Suicide (2010)

We hear often from assisted suicide advocates that most who die by doctor prescribed death in Oregon were in hospice–as if that makes it okay. I have indicated here and elsewhere, that this merely means assisted suicide facilitators have interfered with proper medical treatment for these patients: One essential service provided by hospice is suicide prevention. Bragging that a patient who committed assisted suicide without providing prevention is like denying the patient pain control and then patting yourself on the back when they ask to die. Now, a study shows that my analysis is right on the money: Most hospices do not participate actively in Oregon assisted suicide. From a Hastings Center Report study: During 2009, in order to assess the extent to which Oregon hospice programs participate in physician-assisted death, we requested policy statements, program guidelines, and staff education materials that had been developed by sixty-four hospice programs affiliated with the Oregon Hospice Association to address patient inquiries about the Death with Dignity Act. We received forty documents representing fifty-six programs. Our examination of these documents suggests that individual hospice programs generally assume a minor role in the decision-making process of patients who exercise their rights to physician-assisted death—a role largely confined to providing information about the law in a “neutral” manner. Moreover, hospices claim they will not assist with providing the medications necessary to hasten a patient’s death. This limited role indicates that questions of legal compliance and moral complicity inhibit hospice collaboration with patients seeking physician-assisted death. This is important. Hospice philosophy is completely at odds with doctor prescribed suicide philosophy. They cannot occupy the same...