Wednesday, December 31, 2014

America's Dr Death loses medical license.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Lawrence Egbert
Lawrence Egbert, a leader of the Final Exit Network, has lost his medical license in Maryland.

After a two year review, the Maryland Board of Physicians revoked his medical license after deciding that Egbert's actions were unethical and illegal. Egbert has said that he plans to appeal.

An article in the Baltimore Sun stated:
A Baltimore anesthesiologist who made national news as "The New Doctor Death" held six elderly Marylanders' hands as they asphyxiated themselves with helium and covered up the suicides after they died, according to a state order filed this month stripping him of his medical license. 
Notice that Egbert held their hands to ensure that they couldn't remove the asphyxiation bag. He should have been charged with homicide, not assisted suicide. The article continued:
The suicides are among nearly 300 Lawrence D. Egbert said he helped arrange across the country as an "exit guide" for right-to-die group Final Exit Network. He and several colleagues were arrested in 2009 amid an undercover investigation in Georgia, but he avoided any punishment there or in another case in Arizona. He awaits trial for assisting in a suicide in Minnesota.
Stephen Drake
Stephen Drake, an expert on the Final Exit Network and the research analyst for the disability rights group Not Dead Yet told the Baltimore Sun:
"Revocation of his medical license is a good thing and long overdue,"
Egbert was first charged by the Maryland board with unprofessional conduct in 2012. The Maryland Board were tipped off by a Baltimore Sun article in which he said he had assisted in a handful of suicides in Maryland as medical director of the Final Exit Network. Newsweek dubbed him "The New Doctor Death" in 2011 after he was criminally charged for assisting in suicides in Georgia and Arizona.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Egbert's, the Maryland Board of Physicians based their decision on the following reasons:
The board's report said that after the Final Exit Network accepted a patient it sent them a book detailing how to commit suicide by placing a hood or bag over their head and filling it with helium. The group provided the patients with an "exit guide" who would rehearse the suicide with them and then hold the person's hand while they committed suicide, both for comfort and to prevent the person "from involuntarily displacing the bag during suicide," the report said. 
After the person's death, the exit guide removed the "suicide paraphernalia ... to prevent the cause of death from being determined ... and to hinder police investigations into the circumstances of the death," the report said. 
The report said Egbert was an exit guide in six such suicides in Maryland from 2004 to 2008, and he said that in each case, the patients were not considered "terminally ill" -- that is, they were not expected to die within six months. Their ages ranged from 68 to 87, and they suffered from illnesses including Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and in one case, depression. 
In one case, according to board documents, Egbert helped an 85-year-old woman with a history of diabetes, coronary artery disease and depression kill herself to leave enough money for a trust for her son, who had Asperger syndrome. Her death certificate said she died of heart failure. 
In another case, Egbert assisted in the suicide of an 87-year-old woman with worsening depression, but her death certificate said she died of cardiovascular disease, the documents said. 
The medical board found that the actions were against the ethics of the American Medical Association and violated Maryland law that prohibits providing a physical means to commit suicide or participating in another's suicide.
Egbert has faced several charges related to assisted suicide in several states. The Baltimore Sun stated:
Egbert and Final Exit Network are awaiting trial in Minnesota in May for charges related to assisting in a suicide and interfering with a dead body. Charges related to a law against "advising and encouraging" suicide were dropped in June after the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that deemed the law unconstitutional. 
An Arizona jury acquitted Egbert in the death of an Arizona woman in 2011. Charges against him in Georgia were dropped after the state's Supreme Court overturned a law limiting assisted suicide in 2012.
Philip Nitschke has also recently lost his medical license in Australia for similar actions. Nitschke recently announced that he intends to become a comedian.

Links to more information:


Pol Zwart said...

I believe reporting on issues like Dr. Death raises emotional feelings that do not contribute to develop a sensible strategy to combat euthanasia. The same type of thing happened with the fight in the 1960's in Canada against the pending legislation to allow abortion and it led to the Prolife movement being seen as a radical movement.
I also get the impression that the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition spreads itself rather thinly by tackling both the U.S. and Canada at the same time. It leads to the need to appeal too often to members and it is likely to turn them off. This may result in their deleting your e-mails.
Pol Zwart

Alex Schadenberg said...

It is a good insight Pol.

The problem is that we cannot ignore what is happening over the border, or even what is happening across the ocean.

The other side doesn't ignore it.

Ellen Kolb said...

In the USA, suicide promoters would be very happy if we stopped sharing information across borders. I'd be discouraged about repeated attempts to pass assisted-suicide bills in my state if I didn't know how such legislation has been defeated elsewhere. Yes, I go blind to multiple fundraising appeals, and I've been known to use the delete button. Nevertheless, I value EPC's bird's eye view of the situation beyond the usual borders.

Tillett4CT said...

Please add Share Buttons to your Blog so that we can share your posts quickly to our social media & also the ability to reblog the articles on our bloggers & wordpress