May 262008
 

As readers will know, I am all in favour of euthanasia, assisted suicide, call it what you will. The right of adults, cognisant of their fate healthwise, to choose not to artificially prolong their lives when they perceive the quality of that life no longer exists.

However, I feel disturbed about this issue and all that it implies. I’m also drawn to wonder at the cost savings behind this proposal for public, and to a lesser degree private hospital funding from governments, state and federal. Will active advocacy be applied to those families and carers of PCU and MRS patients, in order that resources be freed for more responsive, less demanding patients? I note the paper places caveats on proposed actions, but rather shallow and vague caveats.

"In making a decision to change the level of care, it needs to be clear that this is not an abandonment of either the patient or the carers, but rather an option for a level of care that is more appropriate at the present time to the person’s condition. The emphasis always needs to be on what care is to continue to be provided, especially when some options are being withdrawn."

Not an abandonment of the PCU/MRS patient, family or carers, but who decides what’s appropriate? Who decides what care ought to be applied to any given patient under any given condition? Medical staff, perhaps under pressure to advocate for switching off support? Medical practitioners who, for the most altruistic of reasons to be sure, would want to convince the family or carers of the opportunity for their loved one to prolong another human beings life through organ donation? Does such a set of protocols place a price on human life?

This is not a euthanasia issue. To be blunt, it’s more a disposal issue. Hospital resources are already under considerable pressure, we all realise this unpleasant fact, however isn’t it rather distasteful to draw a line under another human being’s life, based on cost and unknown, unfathomable outcomes? This is a troublesome issue, and one which requires much consideration, and as the Australian Health Ethics Committee suggests, community education into the facts supporting the paper. Note the final line in this paper on organ harvesting from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

Resources to support health care professionals involved in the care of potential organ donors need to increase and community awareness and education

Surely an argument for ensuring that one has an up-to-date living will, if ever there was one.

  2 Responses to “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”

  1. Euthanaia aside, given the problems of co-ercion, greedy relatives etc, even the option of ‘refusing prolongation’ is thus tainted.
    A handful of Nembutals and half a pint of vodka will do it, but with no hand-mouth co-ordination or oesophagus control…..?

  2. Euthanaia aside, given the problems of co-ercion, greedy relatives etc, even the option of ‘refusing prolongation’ is thus tainted.
    A handful of Nembutals and half a pint of vodka will do it, but with no hand-mouth co-ordination or oesophagus control…..?