Saturday, February 20, 2016

Oregon Hospice Not Safe After Assisted Suicide Legalization

Oregon Hospice Not Safe After Assisted Suicide Legalization
Dear Editor:

Joan Gundrum’s December article urges passage of Oregon-style physician-assisted suicide.  

I am a doctor in Oregon where this practice has been legal since 1997.  Since then, I have observed a corruption of Oregon’s medical profession to devalue patients, especially regarding end-of-life care, which is no longer safe.   One example we see here is a change in hospice.  

 We have had several patients in a local hospice program,  where the hospice nurse instituted high dose morphine (these patient were NOT having any pain or discomfort) and they expiredwithin 24 hours after hospice enrollment, not from their illness, but from a morphine overdose.  Patients are now starting to fear hospice and medical providers are now avoiding this particular hospice program.  This corruption of the role of hospice can be directly linked to the practice of physician-assisted suicide here in Oregon.  

The American Medical Association, Ethics Opinion 2.211, states:

Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. 

Unfortunately, here in Oregon, this is prediction is coming true.  Keep medicine safe.  Tell your legislators to keep assisted-suicide out of New York.

 Charles J. Bentz MD, FACP
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine,
Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics
Oregon Health & Sciences University
Fanno Creek Clinic
Portland, OR

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