Monday, June 30, 2008

Your Family Talk this Fourth

Bill Colby, JD, Senior Fellow, Law and Patient Rights
Center for Practical Bioethics
June 27, 2008

This week brings the story of Sam Golubchuk.

Golubchuk was 84-years-old, on dialysis in a Winnipeg hospital, minimally conscious, unable to communicate. No one believed he would get better. Three doctors refused to treat him, claiming that continuing medical treatment inflicted harm. His daughter vehemently disagreed: “He’s a WWII veteran and this is how we repay him, by trying to kill him?”

It was a mess. The dispute was headed for a Canadian courtroom this coming September. As if trying to spare those he loved the stress ahead, Sam Golubchuk died last Tuesday.

Many of us will spend time with our own families over the Fourth of July. It would be a great gift to those we love to take these three steps when we gather:
  1. Write down who you want to make your medical decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself. (For a free booklet from the Center, go to )

  2. Talk to that person about Sam Golubchuk.

  3. Tell the rest of your family members (and later tell your doctor) about your conversation.

Then put the forms in a place where everyone can find them, and go light the sparklers! A happy and safe Fourth to all.

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