Friday, 10 July 2009

"No Kill" Nursing Homes

I just discovered that the senator for our region of Pennsylvania, Lisa Boscola, co-sponsored a senate bill 404 that will legalize physician assisted suicide if it is eventually passed. What this will mean is that if grandma is diagnosed with "terminal cancer" and wishes to end her life, she can ask the kind family doctor for a prescription cocktail that will end her life.The Hippocratic Oath which I took in 1985 makes me promise to not give anyone something that would end their life, nor counsel them on how to do it. Most western cultures have prohibited suicide and have laws against it. Both Christian and Jewish theologians have understood suicide to be a grave moral evil. Now in our enlightened age, we are going to change the rules and say it's ok to kill grandma or grandpa. Giving a patient a prescription to end their life is no different than me (a physician) going to K Mart and buying a shotgun and shells, sawing off the barrel for convenience and leaving it at the doorstep of my suffering patient so they can end their life.Does anybody have a problem with this?I am the medical director of two nursing homes and oversee the care of over 200 frail elderly patients. I spend my day attempting to alleviate the pain and suffering that is often experienced in the end stages of life. It is not usually easy, but often labor intensive and emotionally draining at times. However, I view it as my privilege to be entrusted to care for the most vulnerable of our society and would want no other job. But is if this bill becomes law, some will view it as cheaper and more convenient to encourage patients to end their life. The value of a older suffering person's life will drop faster than the stock market as it has in the European countries that have embraced PAS and EuthanasiaI am thinking of asking the administrators of my nursing homes to designate them as "No Kill Nursing Homes" just as they do with dog shelters, so the patients can be assured that they will be cared for and not put out of their misery. How can the hand that heals also be the hand that kills? How will patients trust me?The fact that most people I have spoken to in the medical profession have no idea that this bill was proposed back in March is frightening. This is not unintentional. Will we be the next Oregon or Washington state?In the next several months I am hoping to organize some effort to educate those around us to Physician Assisted Suicide and hopefully, by the time the bill is put up for a vote, or a public referendum, the public should be well-informed of this evil. The trick is to get to the public before the well-oiled and funded euthanasia lobbying machine gets to our legislators. Let your senators and representatives know how you feel about this.If you wish to let SenatorLisa Boscola (Lehigh Valley Region) know about your feelings towards this bill and her co-sponsorship of it, email her