Friday, 12 July 2013

Liverpool Care Pathway - A Diagnosis Of Dying Can Be Fatal

Assisted suicide is a dangerous idea with tragic consequences. It is crossing the road with your eyes tight shut.
It is deadly.

Marcel Boisvert asks -
Should physicians be open to euthanasia?
and answers: YES

NO. There are timeless truths stamped in stone and we ignore them at our peril.

This is The Local 

July 11, 2013

ROME – A judge misdiagnosed with cancer ended his life in a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland despite being in good health, an autopsy has shown.
The Italian Insider

Pietro D’Amico, 62, travelled to Switzerland in April to commit suicide after having been informed by Italian doctors that he had terminal cancer. When his widow and daughter requested an autopsy from Swiss authorities, D’Amico’s body showed no signs of dangerous illness.

Michele Roccisano, the family’s lawyer and an old friend of D’Amico’s, said that the medical report carried out on the corpse ruled out “categorically” the existence of a “grave and incurable disease”. Roccisano described the case as a “scientific error which resulted in fatal consequences.”

D’Amico, a respected figure in the judicial service, was suffering from depression. It is believed that the Italian doctors’ findings encouraged him to seek euthanasia in Basel, where Swiss doctors agreed to assist his suicide when presented with the diagnosis.

The Italian judicial system will now decide how much blame should be apportioned to those whose erroneous medical analysis cost D’Amico his life. Nonetheless, the precise reasons behind the mistake remain unclear. According to a report published in the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, D’Amico never took the medical tests that could have identified such a severe illness, sparking suspicions that he knew himself to be in perfect health.

The Swiss judicial authorities have launched an inquiry to determine whether members of the clinic in Basel were thorough enough in their checks. While legal in Switzerland, euthanasia can only be dispensed to individuals with a terminal illness. Those responsible for assisting suicide are not allowed to take patients’ diagnoses without two Swiss doctors verifying their authenticity.

Erika Presig, of the Eternal Spirit Association which offers euthanasia to dying patients, signed to confirm that D’Amico was indeed dying with cancer. Roccisano said that the mysterious Swiss authorities’ complicity rendered the death of such a great figure “all the more painful.” - See more at:
The Italian Insider

We can do better than euthanasia—we must
Dr Boisvert is wrong. Doctors should not be open to euthanasia and assisted suicide as solutions to our patients’ suffering.

Behind the fears of existential suffering or becoming a burden to loved ones or feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, there is a call for help to find meaning even in the midst of such suffering.

When death becomes the answer, we as human beings have lost the opportunity to go beyond our limitations, try harder, and offer hope to these people. Agreeing with assisted suicide is an affirmation that, depending on the circumstances, some lives are not worth living and need to be terminated. At a recent American Psychosocial Oncology Society conference, researchers presented evidence that medical personnel were among some of the most important sources of hope for patients. Mother Teresa used to say that “the feeling of unwantedness, especially from those who are supposed to love and care about us, is the worst threat to our human dignity.”

Amid these overwhelming fears, a free, autonomous decision about euthanasia is an illusion. The troubles of human relationships within families become accentuated, and problems of physician error and abuse in an already stressed medical system abound. It would be difficult to ensure that the choice of suicide is freely made and adequately informed.

Eventually, society will not be able to defend the most vulnerable from abuse, and doctors will become death dealers instead of healers. Despite Dr Boisvert’s assertions to the contrary, countries where euthanasia is legal have suffered from it. Els Borst-Eilers, who served as Health Minister for the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002 and who is a doctor herself, proposed the country’s infamous euthanasia bill. Now, however, she thinks the government acted too soon, to the detriment of palliative care. Even the United Nations Human Rights Committee is concerned by the extent of euthanasia and assisted suicides in the Netherlands: a physician can terminate a patient’s life without any independent review by a judge or magistrate to guarantee that the decision was not the subject of undue influence or misapprehension, second opinions can be obtained from a telephone hot-line, and there is no prior judicial review of physicians’ decisions to terminate patients’ lives in circumstances in which the patients are not able to make the request themselves.

Euthanasia takes us in the wrong direction. It distorts patient-doctor relationships, leaves physicians off the hook too easily in challenging situations, violates health professionals’ moral autonomy, and dehumanizes physicians as they become executioners. We can do better than euthanasia—we must.

Further Reading -

Liverpool Care Pathway - When Dead Isn't Dead

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