Culture of death
Hospice, Living Wills, Futile Care: Hospice, Hospitals &, Nursing Homes Have License To Kill
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If you think the story I’m about to tell you sounds sensational, it is. If you think the information provided in this column sounds unbelievable, unfortunately, it is not. The fact of the matter is: America’s health care system has gone far beyond the madness demonstrated by Dr. Jack Kevorkian who was convicted of murder in 1999. “Dr. Death” Kevorkian received a sentence of 10 to 25 years for the role he played in a nine-year crusade which led to the deaths of over 130 human beings.
Many hospitals and nursing homes are now the new “killing fields” in America, especially when it comes to the care of senior citizens. The truth is, the older a patient is, the more likely death will be the outcome as a result of an agenda which places little, if any, value on life.
Earlier this year, during the debate over health care reform, former Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin, addressed the issue of death panels which would be a part of the health care reform package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. But, in a way, Palin was far behind the curve, as were most Americans, including myself, when it comes to end-of-life issues.
“Most people believe a death panel is a panel, but it’s not,” said Dr. Tonimarie Vincent of North Carolina, an associate member of the Catholic Medical Association. “A death panel is one doctor. The American public does not understand this. You can go into an emergency room for an acute condition and if you have a chronic diagnosis that already exists, that doctor will look at you and, if you’re elderly or you don’t have the right insurance, they’ll say: ‘Well, it’s just not worth treating the patient.’ So, that’s the death panel. Therefore, they’re executing the futility protocol and they’re saying: ‘This is a futile case, the patient is going to die anyway, they have a chronic condition, forget the acute condition that brought them in here, let’s just not treat them.’ So, whether the health care provider practices slow medicine, exit treatment or whatever, they just don’t provide the patient with the care they need.”
Dr. Vincent is part of a growing number of activists in the legal and medical professions who are exposing and documenting what has become entrenched in our nation’s health care system.
I believe what Dr. Vincent is talking about here is part of the “culture of death” which now permeates our society. But there are some fine people and organizations who are shining a bright and cleansing light on end-of-life issues. One such organization is calledLifeTree whose Executive Director is Elizabeth Wickham of North Carolina. Also, Bill Beckman, Executive Director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee has written extensively on issues which include the dangers of living wills, hospice care and futile care. I suggest those of you who have parents, grandparents, siblings or loved ones who are reaching their golden years look at the information provided at both of these web sites.
To make matters worse, recently, the implementation of hospice care—which was originally meant to ease the pain of terminally ill patients—has now become an instrument designed to hasten death in America. I believe God has been speaking to me and not with quiet whispers in the midst of spiritual contemplation. Of late, His voice has been loud and clear regarding some of the end-of-life issues addressed in this column.
I believe in Providence. As I was writing this column, I received a phone call from a friend. I am totally blind, and my wife, Julie, who edits my work, was looking through some of the e-mails that we received today while I was on the phone. Something amazing happened. I received a touching and poignant e-mail from Christina Bowen, a woman whose Mother had just passed. To say this message came to my attention by coincidence would be foolish on my part. Christina Bowen sent me a comment in regards to one in a series of columns written by Bill Beckman on end-of-life issues which were posted on my website/blog (RFFM.org) in August of 2008. The series also included a commentary written by Stephen Bloom, a Christian lawyer and author of many books, including “The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues”. His website ishttp://www.IsThereALawyerInTheChurch.com
Here is what Ms. Bowen wrote:
“I honestly believe with all my heart that if Hospice had not been in charge of my mother’s care, that she would still be alive today. My mom was 70 years old and had cancer. We are well aware that this is a terminal disease, yet she was no where near the end of her life.
My mom had bone cancer in both of her upper legs. She was in a wheel chair so it was hard for her to travel. She was also on bottled oxygen. After several months of consideration she decided not to take any more chemotherapy or radiation. The only thing she needed was something to control her pain, because the cancer was not going to go away. On September the first, I took her to see her oncologist for the last time. They decided together that Hospice could provide her with the care she needed from here on out. On that day my mom was of sound mind and doing well. We left the doctor’s office and went out to dinner together.
The next day the Hospice nurses came to the house for an evaluation. They took control over all of mom’s medications and instructed us not to call 911 in case of an emergency. Everything from here on out was to be determined by the Hospice physician. They immediately increased her fentynol patch from 50mcg to 100mcg. They increased her oral pain medicine from 30mg of oxycodone to 100-120mg oxycodone per day.
The changes started immediately. At first she seemed to be “high”. She was sleepier than normal, kind of nodding out all the time. Started being confused, loss of appetite, and had trouble swallowing. We called the Hospice nurses and reported the side effects. My sister and I were convinced that she was receiving too much pain medicine and that she might even overdose from it. They insisted that it was just a part of the final stages of life. Even though no one ever came to the house to check her out.
As time went by, the side effects worsened. She started having trouble breathing, sweating, and even hallucinations. She finally went into a coma. We were on the phone with Hospice constantly trying to seek help for our mom. We knew that she was being overdosed, but again was told that it was a normal part of the death cycle.
On Sept. the 8th Hospice finally showed up at the house. Mom was in a coma and unable to take her medicines. They insisted that she was just in her final stages of life and the morphine had nothing to do with what we were seeing. They said she must continue to take her morphine, so they went to the pharmacy and ordered a liquid form to be administered. She died later that evening.
I know cancer kills people. I know that my mom was going to eventually lose her battle and die, too. But I also know that she was not there yet. She was just in pain, she wasn’t dying. So in a time span of 5-6 days, our mom went from being an independent, strong willed woman, to a childlike infant, and then finally, just gone.
I blame myself for allowing this to happen. Looking back I know I could have done something to have prevented this. I should have followed my instincts and removed the patch, stopped the oral drugs, and took her to the hospital against their instructions. But I didn’t. I let them kill my mom.
So, for anyone reading this, I beg you to please, please, think long and hard about signing a loved one up for Hospice. And make sure that you are ready to say goodbye when you do.”
To say I was stunned after my wife read me these words would be an understatement of the greatest proportion. In the past, many cultures cherished their elders. Those in their senior years were highly revered and seen as depositories of great wisdom who helped guide their respective families and communities because of their life experiences. Today in America, those approaching (and in) their later years are now seen as burdens on society and a culture which has lost its way.
I plead with Illinois Family Institute readers to heed the warnings. Perhaps you can look back and remember the passing of one of your loved ones who seemed to fade away too quickly, while they were in the “care” of those who, supposedly, were looking out for their best interests and well-being. I have looked back and I now believe my Mother was also a victim of what Christina Bowen wrote about above.
Illinois Right to Life Committee
website) which includes a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Document which may one day save your life or the life of a loved one. But, most important, be aware of the dangers which lurk in places which once were sanctuaries meant for our well-being, but many no longer are.
If your parent or grandparent is hospitalized, ask questions of their doctors, nurses, pharmacists and anyone else involved with their health care. Ask what medications they are taking and why? Do not be intimidated. Do not let them dismiss your concerns. If they do not respond positively, go elsewhere for medical care…IMMEDIATELY. Ms. Bowen blames herself for what happened to her mother, but she is not to blame. The blame lies within a system which hastened her mother’s premature death, instead of making her comfortable before her ultimate passing.
I hope this column is a service to you all. Please share this information with everyone you know. My thanks to the Illinois Family Institute for its work in defense of the defenseless and for giving hope to the hopeless. I pray you all peace.