Friday, October 2, 2009

Doctors: Legalized Euthanasia Threatens Care For Terminally Ill

Dr. Jose Pereira, a University of Ottawa professor and the head of the university's palliative-care program, explains his concerns about bill C-384:
The legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada could reduce the level of care available to those with terminal illnesses, two Ottawa doctors warn.

"We need to improve care, not terminate it," Dr. Jose Pereira told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
He said he is concerned about a private member's bill to legalize euthanasia after his experience in Switzerland, which already allows the practice.

While working at a hospital in Geneva, Pereira said, he noticed that a few months after the hospital began offering assisted suicide, community-based palliative care services were shut down and the number of palliative-care physicians at the hospital was reduced.
Pereira's concerns were echoed by Dr. Jean Bartkowiak, president and CEO at Bruyère.

"We must not abandon these vulnerable people through assisted suicide and euthanasia, but instead embark on a quest to find better ways to maintain their dignity and quality of life," he said. He added that hears daily about patients recovering from dire situations, and said people should never lose hope.
Pereira said there are "serious flaws" in the bill:
  • It isn't limited to people with terminal illnesses, but also mental illnesses.
  • It allows people to refuse appropriate treatment and choose euthanasia.
  • It doesn't define "terminal."
  • It allows people to consent to assisted suicide if they appear to be lucid, a qualification Pereira said is "too ambiguous."
He added that other jurisdictions have found it hard to put in "foolproof safeguards" to prevent people who don't meet the criteria — such as people with depression — to be eligible for euthanasia,

Pereira also expressed concerns about what legalizing euthanasia would mean for doctors.

"It's taking a way the right of most physicians to say, 'No, this is not something that we do.'"
Hopefully, Members of Parilament that are still undecided (or that are leaning towards supporting the bill) take those arguments in consideration when a vote on C-384 actually takes place.


CK said...

Why should the suffering terminally ill who know with absolute certainty they're going to die have to go to the trouble & expense to fly to Switzerland or the Netherlands to die with dignity?

Those who can't due to financial constraints &/or inability to fly or get a visa to these countries will do it anyway here. Why should the family member &/or Doctor be sacked with criminal charges after a very trying moment just for making sure this individual's final wishes are being carried out?

We already have the power to write in our living wills or verbalize our wishes to not be kept alive by machines or sign DNR orders. What is the difference, really, between the above acts and euthanasia??

Euthanasia &/or assisted suicide should rest between the individual & his/her family & no one else.

As for this Dr Pereira, kind of weird to be making statements considering patients in those homes for the most part have DNR orders duly signed & will not have heroic measures to prolong the inevitable.

"It's taking a way the right of most physicians to say, 'No, this is not something that we do.' Give me a break! Considering there are doctors in the U.S. who refuse to treat uninsured people or refuse treatments due to the bottom line of insurance companies.

The doctor says that a doctor should not fulfill the wishes of a dying patient but can prematurely kill one due to that old bottomline. Really rich.

I'm not saying Dr Pereira is advocating for private for profit medicine. I'm just saying it's weird for a doctor to say 'it's not we do' A view that is probably shared by those same American Doctors who refuse treatment to the uninsured or to save money.

Leonard said...

>>We already have the power to write
>>in our living wills or verbalize
>>our wishes to not be kept alive by
>>machines or sign DNR orders. What
>>is the difference, really, between
>>the above acts and euthanasia??
With the DNR, a doctor just has to turn around and leave. When it comes to euthanasia or assisted suicide, the doctor actually has to give his patient the lethal injection or, at the least - supply him with the syringe and an ampule of poison.
In other words - the difference is - euthanasia requires someone else to intentionally take away the patient's life.

>>Euthanasia &/or assisted suicide
>>should rest between the individual
>>& his/her family & no one else.
How do you picture that? Will it be a family member giving his terminally ill relative the lethal injection? Or will it actually be the doctor's job to assume the role of an executioner?

>>I'm just saying it's weird for a
>>doctor to say 'it's not we do'
Euthanasia is not a medical treatment - it's murder. And Dr. Pereira is a doctor, not an executioner. So I don't find it weird for a doctor to refuse to perform an action the sole purpose of which is to take away the patient's life.

>>A view that is probably shared
>>by those same American Doctors
>>who refuse treatment to the
>>uninsured or to save money.
Oh, really? And how many doctors (or managers of our socialized state-run hospitals) could start coercing terminally ill patients to accept euthanasia, just because they need those hospital beds for someone else?

Dr. Pereira knows what he's talking about.