End of life decisions; a local doctor makes a case for those terminally ill people who wish to end their suffering humanely.
Years ago, Dr. Kevorkian had taken it upon himself to support those who were terminally ill and suffering to find a way out, that they could control. In our society, it is illegal to take your own life, even if your days are numbered and the suffering is great. Many reports of doctors or nurses allowing patients to control a morphine drip, and either making it possible for them to increase the dosage to end their lives or helping them do it via other means which is not openly talked about. On the other hand, if a pet is terminally ill, they are put to sleep humanely, as the loving family says their last goodbye. Why is it impossible for our society to look at human life that way, allowing those with horrible suffering that will end anyway to help them leave us when they have had enough rather than what many currently have to endure because of our societal fears.
There are also other business interests such as hospice facilities and hospitals that currently host the terminally ill that would lose all that revenue while the patient withers away, something that ends in the familiar outcome; death.
A NJ doctor expressed his concerns yesterday in a column printed in the NJ Star ledger. It was well thought out and well written. Check it out here.
Bring dignified death to New Jersey: Opinion
By Howard Grossman
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, I was fresh out of medical school and a resident at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. In the heart of our nation’s largest city, at the epicenter of this intensifying crisis, I discovered what was to be my life’s work.
I spent the next 30 years treating, caring for and providing the best medical care for people living with HIV.
At St. Clare’s in New York City, I worked in the first dedicated AIDS unit in the country; I educated doctors and nurses in Russia and Belarus on how to treat and prevent HIV; and I spent six weeks in the Far West of Nepal helping to establish the first HIV treatment facility in the area.
We have made great progress in the way we prevent, diagnose and treat patients with HIV and other, once uniformly fatal diseases but, in the 1980s, there was no successful, life-sustaining treatment for HIV or AIDS. Upon diagnosis, it was essentially a waiting game for many patients, who were sure that they would slowly deteriorate and suffer both physically and emotionally until meeting their ultimate fate.
I’ve always believed in a person’s right to self-determination, especially someone who is terminally ill and suffering. Doctors aim first for cures, but when a cure is not possible, we give our patients the best possible support in the dying process. I could not stop people from dying in every case, but I learned to do all I could to alleviate suffering and pain. Still, I had to watch as hundreds of patients died excruciatingly slow, inevitable deaths and watched the suffering it inflicted on them and their loved ones. It became even more clear that patients needed a more humane way to conclude the last chapter of their lives, one that allowed them choice and self-determination.