June 24, 2018
Assisted death rate up in 2017
Nearly 400 people used California assisted death law last year
The Associated Press
By Don Thompson
Sacramento, California health officials reported Friday that 374 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in 2017, the first full year after a law made the option legal.
Of the 374 who died, about 90 percent were more than 60 years old, about 95 percent were insured and about 83 percent were receiving hospice or similar care. The median age was 74.
The figures are more than double those from the first six months after the law went into effect June 9, 2016. In those early months 191 people received life-ending drugs, while 111 people took them and died.
June 9, 2018
Die Like a Dog
By Joseph Pierre, MD
Pet dogs often have a peaceful death that forestalls protracted suffering and pain. Why can’t we do the same for humans?
In human medicine, we’re used to implementing any and every life-saving intervention right up to the very end.
As a medical intern 20 years ago, I remember thinking about the futility of that approach with patients in pain and suffering from multisystem organ failure, sustained only by machines and a regimen of some 30 or 40 medications, and unlikely to ever make it out of the hospital. What was the point? Whatever happened to quality of life? But those reservations be damned, we never gave up, and among the interns who transferred care to each other from shift to shift, the dictum of patients ‘not dying on my watch’ was something to which we all held fast.
May 2, 2018
David Goodall: 104-year old Scientist Wants to Die. His Birthday Wish is to Die
By Lindsey Beaver
Bubbles danced in fancy glasses and birthday candles burned atop a cheesecake marking 104 years of a long and accomplished life.
David Goodall listened quietly as his loved ones started to sing.
Then he took a breath, made a wish and blew out the flames.
But Goodall was not wholeheartedly celebrating the milestone last month in Perth, Australia. The botanist and ecologist, who is thought to be the country’s oldest scientist, said that he has lived too long.
And now, he said, he is ready to die.
[David Goodall has since died as he wished in Switzerland. Ed. Note]
April 17, 2018
Right-to-die Group Sues Minnesota Attorney General over 2015 Criminal Conviction Group's Attorneys Claim a Minnesota Statute Violated Its Free Speech Rights.
By Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune
A national right-to-die group that was convicted of helping an Apple Valley woman end her life is now asking a federal judge to declare that Minnesota’s prosecution violated the group’s free-speech rights.
The Final Exit Network, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based nonprofit, sued Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson late Monday after exhausting its efforts to appeal its convictions of assisting a suicide and interfering with a death scene delivered by a Dakota County jury in 2015.
Attorneys for Final Exit argue that a critical element of a statute used to prosecute the group — assisting a suicide — amounts to “pure First Amendment-protected speech.”
Benjamin Wogsland, a spokesman for Swanson, said the Attorney General’s Office is not an appropriate party in the case and that they plan to ask that it be dismissed.
April 5, 2018
Medically Assisted Suicide Becomes Legal in Hawaii
By Sophia Yan, Associated Press
Hawaii became the latest liberal-leaning state to legalize medically assisted suicide Thursday as the governor signed a measure into law allowing doctors to fulfill requests from terminally ill patients to prescribe life-ending medication.
"It is time for terminally ill, mentally competent Hawaii residents who are suffering to make their own end-of-life choices with dignity, grace and peace," Gov. David Ige said.
Ige said the law was written to ensure the patient is in full control and it provides just one option available for end-of-life care, knowing assisted suicide is not for everyone.
"But we know that we have gotten to a point in our community that it does make sense to give the patient a choice to request the medication, obtain it and take it, or ultimately change their mind," the governor said.
April 7, 2018
When Do You Know You're Old Enough to Die? Barbara Ehrenreich Has Some Answers
By Lucy Rock
Four years ago, Barbara Ehrenreich, 76, reached the realisation that she was old enoughto die. Not that the author, journalist and political activist was sick; she just didn’t want to spoil the time she had left undergoing myriad preventive medical tests or restricting her diet in pursuit of a longer life.While she would seek help for an urgent health issue, she wouldn’t look for problems.
Now Ehrenreich felt free to enjoy herself. “I tend to worry that a lot of my friends who are my age don’t get to that point,” she tells the Guardian. “They’re frantically scrambling for new things that might prolong their lives.”
It is not a suicidal decision, she stresses. Ehrenreich has what she calls “a very keen bullshit detector” and she has done her research.
The results of this are detailed in her latest book, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, published on 10 April.
Part polemic, part autobiographical, Ehrenreich – who holds a PhD in cellular immunology – casts a skeptical, sometimes witty, and scientifically rigorous eye over the beliefs we hold that we think will give us longevity. She targets the medical examinations, screenings and tests we’re subjected to in older age.
Dec. 1, 2017
U.S. News and Health Report
Health Buzz: A Man Came In With a 'DNR' Tattoo. Here's What His Doctors Did
An unconscious patient and his unusual tattoo made for quite the ethical dilemma.
By David Oliver, Associate Editor, Social Media
Doctors from the University of Miami encountered seemingly the ethical dilemma of all ethical dilemmas: A patient with "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed on his chest, along with what seemed like his signature, arrived at the hospital unconscious and with a high blood alcohol level. Hours later, he developed low blood pressure.
"We initially decided not to honor the tattoo, invoking the principle of not choosing an irreversible path when faced with uncertainty," the doctors wrote to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.