Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Palliative care not assisted suicide.

The Sudbury Star published an interesting article on August 26 examining assisted suicide and concluding that Comfort care should be urged over assisted suicide.

Elaine Klym
The article interviews Elaine Klym, a veteran palliative care nurse in Sudbury. Klym stated in the article that she:
understands the medical profession needs to do more to mitigate the suffering of terminally ill patients, but she says hastening death is not the way to go. 
"I think the topic of physician-assisted suicide comes up because there's not enough palliative care available," she says. 
Her recommendation is "comfort care," which means better universal access to pain and symptom management, which could include nausea, anxiety, shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms related to chronic illness. The hospice does not advocate for doctor-assisted dying. 
"It's not just pain management and it's not just the physical things," she says. "We forget about the whole person. It's a holistic approach to care." 
Klym, also spoke about the importance of the Shared care team, an interdisciplinary team that brings the hospice philosophy into the community.
"Our role is to promote comfort, not to hasten death," she says. "It's such an anxious time for families. It's a question (medically assisted dying) that at times has been asked, and then it's often sitting down with the family and asking, 'what is the concern? What is the fear?' A lot of times, after some education and discussion, the concern has been alleviated." 
Klym says the proper management and control of symptoms is her priority. 
"The hospice is about finding the best in every day," she says. "Palliative care is about living the best of every day. It is not about hastening death." 
Fear and confusion may play roles in knee-jerk reactions to terminal illness. 
She points out the dying process need not be entirely negative.

The Sudbury Star article also looked at the position of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Canada's national disability advocacy organization. The article reported:
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities opposes assisted dying and euthanasia. In a policy statement dating back to 1996, it says it opposes actions that may "further devalue the lives of people with disabilities in Canada or promote the negative stereotypes about people with disabilities as suffering individuals in need of state-regulated assistance to end our lives." The Council of Canadians with Disabilities believes doctor-assisted dying is unconstitutional.  
Amy Hasbrouck & John Kelly
Its policy statement continues, "The (council) opposes government action to decriminalize assisted suicide because of the serious potential for abuse and the negative image of people with disabilities that would be produced if people with disabilities are killed with state sanction."
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) intervened at the BC Court of Appeal in the Carter case, a court case that seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada and Amy Hasbrouck with Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet is also working with CCD.

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