Thursday, 26 July 2007

Concerning Care of the Suffering

The words and writings of John Paul II provide a map for living. I love to search online libraries for the various letters and writings of the former pope. Here is a talk to a group of Catholic physicians given in 2000.

The world of suffering and pain is vast and complex. Yet it can be for the human being an opportunity for spiritual growth, opening up horizons beyond the confines of a precarious physical condition. When he is properly supported, the sick person, although aware of his own physical frailty, is often led to discover a dimension that goes beyond his own corporeity. This is why, in the medical and nursing care of patients, as well as on the boundaries of research, it is important always to keep in mind the centrality of the person, regardless of race or religion. We must bend over every sick person with loving care, following the example of the Good Samaritan.

We must never lose sight of the finality of the true good of the person; we must never yield to the temptation of a medicine and scientific progress that are without norms and values, that could be transformed into a dangerous form of "technological control" over life.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Science and Religion

Here's a link to an article from Commentary Magazine by Leon Kass, former advisor to President GW Bush and one of my favorite philosophers, regarding the nature of science and its relationship to religion.

The substantive limits of science follow from certain fundamental aspects of scientific knowledge and from science’s assumptions about what sorts of things are scientifically knowable. They stem from science’s own self-proclaimed conceptual limitations—limitations to which neither religious nor philosophical thought is subject. This is not because,science being rational, it is incapable of dealing with the passionate or sub-rational or spiritual or supernatural aspects of being. It is, on the contrary, because the rationality of science is but a partial and highly specialized rationality, concocted for the purpose of gaining only that kind of knowledge for which it was devised, and applied to only those aspects of the world that can be captured by such rationalized notions. The peculiar reason of science is not the natural reason of everyday life captured in ordinary speech, and it is also not the reason of philosophy or religious thought, both of which are tied to—even as they seek to take us beyond—the world as we experience it.

Cross posted at EyeHackerBlog

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Dark Side of "Universal Healthcare"

Here's a bit from across the pond:

Laura Price, 30, who worked on shows such as Big Brother and Strictly Come Dancing, was found dead in her home just hours after she had been discharged from casualty.

The evening before she died, Miss Price, from Notting Hill,
west London, had begged a junior A&E doctor for anti-seizure drugs but had been told they could only be prescribed by a neurologist. Two days earlier she had visited a specialist at Charing Cross hospital and was told she would have to wait six weeks for a brain scan. She had felt "concerned and afraid" at having to wait that length of time for a test before being treated for a recurrence of childhood epilepsy, Westminster coroner's court heard.

For all the faults of our system, can you imagine how bad things will be if there is socialized medicine in this country?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

'Ethics' in End of Life Care

I am new to the blog here, thanks so much for having me. I work as a geriatrician for a large hospital system in eastern Pennsylvania and am an associate professor of medicine at Penn State Medical School. I work part-time, meaning 35 hours a week, vs full time 70+ when I was in solo private practice. I am also a musician and have been performing acoustic music for most of my life. I have my own blog at Crossed The Tiber.
I had been an evangelical Christian for the past 33 years having left the Catholic Church as a young teenager not knowing who I was leaving. (Jesus in the Eucharist) I am in daily wonder of the beauty of Catholicism and in particular the wonderful tools Holy Mother Church equips us with to live out the gospel in our professional and personal lives. Regarding ethics and making end of life decisions as an evangelical physician, I flew by the seat of my pants adopting the "quality of life" mantra that had been shoved down our throats since medical school. Through the medical ethics of the Church, God is teaching me that life itself is "a good" because He has created it and quality has nothing to do with the decisions when caring for people at the end of life. 60 years ago, the Nazis were very big on the *quality of life* paradigm and started exterminating the retarded, crippled and disabled of their own race which opened the door for the final solution. My first post on this blog deals with the palliative care committees which are springing up in many hospitals including my own. Initially it seems like a positive idea, trying to guide the appropriateness of care, but in my experience they have acted as a unwelcome force to remove basic care from patients who are deemed "low quality of life."

The "futile care theory" is spawning the creation of "ethics" committees in hospitals which may be more accurately called "Auschwitz Welcome Wagons." When the doctors perceive that the patient's quality of life is poor they now consult these "Welcome Wagons" to badger the families into relenting and letting them stop care. I understand the need to stop aggressive measures when death is imminent and the treatment is over-burdensome, however, I have seen fluids and feedings stopped because a person with dementia was judged to not "measure up," to use Dr. Kevorkian's terminology.Once we start killing life at the beginning, it becomes so much easier to hasten death at the end.Germany still has the graveyards where the elderly and disabled were interred after being euthanized. Let's face it, elderly and embryos don't look good in two piece bathing suits nor do they contribute to the GNP. So where's the quality there? God have mercy on us. Lord Jesus, Give us understanding of the inviolability of life.

Welcome to a new member!

Welcome to Russ, "a revert and geriatrician,internist" who has joined us here. Russ blogs at Russ we're looking forward to your participation.