During this year, famous physician and health commissioner of Milwaukee, Walter Kempster, administered a lethal dose of morphine to a woman who was suffering traumatic self-inflicted third degree burns. However, unlike more recent stories of assisted suicide — such as the infamous trial Dr. Kevorkian — this case did not spark a national debate, call activists to picket medical practices, or even cause Kempster to hold a public apology. Likewise, even without account for psychological and emotional stressors, these costs of the last two years of life are, on average, the highest costs a person with a terminal illness will face.
Abstract In her paper, The case for physician assisted suicide: Given that her verdict is based on a small number of highly controversial cases that will most likely occur under any regime of legally implemented safeguards, she renders it virtually impossible to prove the case for physician assisted suicide.
In this brief paper, we suggest some ways that may enable us to weigh the risks and benefits of legalisation more fairly and, hopefully, allow us to close the case for physician assisted suicide.
Because of a legal injunction, implementation of the act was delayed by almost three years. After multiple legal proceedings, including a petition that was denied by the United States Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finally lifted the injunction on October 27, The Death With Dignity Act DWDA allows mentally competent, terminally ill patients who are over 18 years of age and residents of the state of Oregon to obtain a prescription for a lethal dosage of medication to end their own life in case their suffering becomes unbearable.
Patients eligible for the act must make one written and two oral requests over a period of 15 days. The prescribing physician and a consulting physician have to confirm the diagnosis and the prognosis.
The prescribing physician is required to inform the patient of potential alternatives to PAS, such as comfort care, hospice care, and pain control. In16 Oregonians used PAS, followed by 27 in27 in21 in38 in42 inand 37 in Thus, PAS accounts for only one in 1, deaths among Oregonians.
Interestingly, about 36 per cent of patients who obtained a lethal dose of barbiturates from a doctor never used it, suggesting that all these patients sought was control over the manner and timing of their deaths.
As Timothy E Quill recently put it: Of the patients, died at home; only one died in an acute care hospital. Opponents of the act predicted that the patients most likely to avail themselves of PAS would be the poor, the ill educated, and the uninsured who are without access to adequate hospice care.
On average, 86 per cent of patients using the act are enrolled in hospice care. As a matter of fact, it seems that the legal option of PAS may actually have contributed to the improvement of end of life and hospice care in Oregon.
As the Oregon Department of Human Services points out: While it may be common for patients with a terminal illness to consider physician assisted suicide, a request for a prescription can be an opportunity for a medical provider to explore with patients their fears and wishes around end of life care, and to make patients aware of other options.
The availability of assisted suicide as an option in Oregon also may have spurred Oregon doctors to address other end of life care options more effectively.
In one study Oregon physicians reported that, since the passage of the Death with Dignity Act inthey had made efforts to improve their knowledge of the use of pain medications in the terminally ill, to improve their recognition of psychiatric disorders such as depression, and to refer patients more frequently to hospice.
In her paper, The case for physician assisted suicide: The discussion should continue. At present, the case for legalising PAS seems to me to be still—in the words of the Scottish verdict—not proven. Apparently, for two reasons. First, partisanship on the issue of PAS makes it extremely difficult to assess the Oregon data objectively.
Proponents of PAS interpret the statistics in a strikingly different way from its opponents. And second, there have been several reports about abuses of the Oregon DWDA, suggesting that the existing safeguards do not work.
These cases of alleged abuse involve patients who might have been mentally incompetent or clinically depressed. We do not want to get into this debate.
Let it suffice to say that the mere fact that most of the allegations of abuse come from the author of Forced Exit: I think if there were any abuses in the law, we would hear of it.Oct 14, · Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals.
woman diagnosed with lung cancer and prescribed a chemotherapy drug by her personal physician, Any benefits . 8 Main Pros and Cons of Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide. Human Rights; While there are people who support this, there are medical doctors and private citizens who are against its legalization.
Here is a look at some of the ethical and legal arguments presented by opposing groups. Potential Cost Savings from Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide To the Editor I am troubled that in their examination of the potential cost savings from legalizing physician-assisted suicide, Emanuel and Battin (July 16 issue) 1 relegate what I consider a central issue to an afterthought: the costs borne by individual patients and their families during protracted, terminal illnesses.
May 16, · On November 8, , the US state of Oregon passed the Death With Dignity Act permitting physician assisted suicide.
Because of a legal injunction, implementation of the act was delayed by almost three years. In Washington, physician-assisted suicide did not become legal until In , four Washington physicians and three terminally ill patients brought forth a lawsuit that would challenge the ban on medical aid in dying that was in place at the time.
With medical costs and the dependency ratio of aging Americans being one of policy makers' greatest fears about the future, assisted suicide may oust some of these issues.