Thursday, December 2, 2010
I shouldn't be paranoid so close to Christmas, but when I saw the article from amednews.com, "Turning off heart devices near life's end stirs ethical, legal debates," I thought, "Catholic hospital-bashing again!"
And lo! it wasn't Catholic hospitals this time which were bashed--it was some doctors, a few lawyers, and the usual number of patients/families!
I have used this deactivation issue with my ethics brown bags this fall and relied upon an article by Ron Hamel, Ph.D., senior director, ethics at Catholic Health Association. (It was sent to CHA-member organizations. I don't know if it was in Health Progress or not.)
ANYWAY, Ron says that the recommendations of the Heart Rhythm Society (cited in the online piece) are very much in keeping with our tradition, but Ron also stressed the need for physician education on the issue.
And, of course, for educating everybody who might at some time have a pacemaker or ICD.
This statement from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings cited in the online article appalled me: "Almost one-third of medical professionals surveyed considered withdrawl of a pacemaker in a pace-maker-dependent patient as physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. . . ."
Didn't we hear that kind of statement in Quinlan and again in Cruzan? If a burden/benefits discussion with my physician would lead me to request the pacemaker be deactivated since I was dying, why would the physician balk?