Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't legalize assisted suicide

Yesterday, The Salt Lake Tribune published the following letter from Dr. Charles Bentz from Portland Oregon. The article was entitled: Don't follow Oregon.

Dr Charles Bentz
I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I disagree with the implication in “Do Utahns have the right to choose how they die?” (Tribune, Jan. 8) that Oregon’s assisted-suicide law is a good thing.

A few years ago, a 76-year-old patient presented with a sore on his arm. I referred him to a cancer specialist for therapy. As he went through that therapy, he became depressed, which was documented in his chart.

During this time, he expressed to the cancer specialist a wish for assisted suicide.

Rather than making the effort to address his depression, or to contact me, his primary physician who knew him, she asked me to be the second opinion for his suicide. 

I did not concur; addressing his depression would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription.

Unfortunately, two weeks later my depressed patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor.
In most jurisdictions, suicidal ideation is interpreted as a cry for help.

In Oregon, the only help my patient got was a prescription intended to kill him.

Don’t follow Oregon’s lead.

Charles J. Bentz, M.D. Clinical associate professor of medicine Oregon Health and Sciences University - Portland Oregon

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