July
26
 

Euthanasia could be option for poor, says Lithuanian health minister

The new Lithuanian Health Minister, Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė

Euthanasia might be needed for poor people who cannot access palliative care, the new Lithuanian Health Minister has suggested. Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė was sworn earlier this month, but already she has made waves by backing an open discussion of the legalisation of euthanasia.

Without making any specific proposals, she told local media that Lithuania was not a welfare state with palliative care available for all and that euthanasia might be an option for people who did not want to torment relatives with the spectacle of their suffering.  

The minister has also raised the idea of euthanasia for children. She noted that this option had been approved for Belgian children after a long public debate. It was an option which might be appropriate in Lithuania as well after public debate.

Ms Šalaševičiūtė will face… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
26
 

Guantanamo nurse refuses to participate in force-feedings

A military medical professional at Guantanamo Bay recently refused to force-feed detainees after witnessing the suffering it caused detainees, according to the American branch of the prisoner lobby group Reprieve.  

The incident is thought to be the first case of 'conscientious objection' to force-feeding at Guantánamo since a mass hunger-strike began at the prison last year. Cleared Syrian Abu Wa’el Dhiab related the news on a phone call last week with his Reprieve lawyer, Cori Crider. Dhiab explained that a military nurse recently told him he would no longer participate in force-feedings, saying: “I have come to the decision that I refuse to participate in this criminal act.”  

A Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed this to the Miami Herald: “There was a recent instance of a medical provider not willing to carry out the enteral feeding of a detainee.” The nurse in question has apparently been assigned elsewhere; Mr. Dhiab said that after the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

The IVF industry must go green

Free fertility treatment should be banned for those making lifestyle reproductive choices, such as  sterilisation reversal or single motherhood for fertile women. And fertility clinics should be subject to carbon capping schemes, in a bid to help curb climate change, argues a theologian in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Only those who are medically infertile through no fault of their own should be eligible for government  funded treatment, suggests Cristina Richie, a theology PhD candidate at Boston College, Massachusetts.  

Richie singles out fertility treatments because  they not only produce a carbon footprint as a result of the resource they consume, but also create a  carbon legacy.

And she points out in an accompanying podcast: “Assisted reproductive technologies are typically  given in places with enormously large carbon footprints.” The US, for example, is the world’s second largest carbon emitter, producing 20 metric tonnes of  carbon… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

A psychiatrist who saved lives—with a gun

 

Is this one of those “only in America” stories? On Thursday afternoon in a Philadelphia, a man brandishing a pistol stormed the psychiatric ward of Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. He shot dead his caseworker, 53-year-old Theresa Hunt and fired at his psychiatrist, Dr Lee Silverman, grazing his head. The doctor ducked for cover behind a desk.

But this was not going to be another mass shooting. Dr Silverman was ready for this. He pulled his own pistol out of a desk drawer and returned fire. He shot the patient, Richard Plotts, twice in the torso and once in the arm. Plotts collapsed and bystanders disarmed him.

It was like a script written by the National Rifle Association. The local police chief told the media: “without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives. Without that firearm, this guy (the patient) could have went out in the… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Does dress matter in medicine?

An ongoing debate amongst physicians has broken into academic discourse – should doctors dress formally for clinical practice?

Microbiologist Stephanie Dancer says ‘yes’.  In an article in the British Medical Journal Dancer asserts that  ‘dressing down’ diminishes the dignitas of the medical profession and could be see as an indication of carelessness: 

“Doctors are members of a distinguished profession and should dress accordingly. Untidiness erodes the image of doctors as responsible and competent…[it] might be taken as a flashing neon sign that says “I don’t care.”

Dancer also claims that scruffy dress could contribute to low hygiene standards in hospitals: “scruffiness, however defined, also intimates a lack of personal hygiene and correspondingly lower standards of hygienic behavior.”

Two Manchester University medical ethicists, Cesar Palacios-Gonzalez and David R Lawrence, have written a scathing critique of Dancer’s claims. Gonzalez and Lawrence assert that scruffy dress has no effect on the ‘intrinsic dignity’ of the medical… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Botched execution sparks outcry in US

Another botched execution in the USA has reignited debate over the death penalty. Arizona man Joseph Rudolph Wood took almost two hours to die after being injected with the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. The two drugs are a new barbiturate combination being trialled in a number of US states.

According to witnesses, Wood gasped for air hundreds of times before succumbed to the drugs. “It was very disturbing to watch…like a fish on shore gulping for air”, said reporter Troy Hayden. “I counted 660 times that he gasped,” said Arizona Republic journalist Michael Kiefer.

Just two months ago BioEdge reported on a similar botched execution in Oklahoma.

Shortly after the execution, Arizona governor Jan Brewer issued a statement in which she ordered a full review of the execution process.

She was nevertheless adamant that the execution had been lawful and did not involve undue pain: “One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

Nitschke suspended from medical register

Australian euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has been suspended from the medical register as an investigation continues into his involvement in the death of a 45 year old Australian man.  

The Medical Board of Australia decided to suspend Nitschke after he admitted to supporting Nigel Brayley in his decision to commit suicide, despite not being terminally ill. The board said that Nitschke “presented a serious risk to the health and safety of the public”. 

The suspension, which came into effect at midnight on Thursday, prevents him from practicing anywhere in Australia and is an interim measure pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Nitschke called the decision “political“ and “a dirty little midnight assassination“ aimed at silencing him.  He has vowed to fight the suspension.

Beyond Blue spokesperson Jeff Kennett welcomed the decision, saying, "We cannot allow the debate to start that it's alright for a 16-year-old, or a 45-year-old, simply because they're having… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

UK assisted dying bill: the case against

At the conclusion of the debate on his Assisted Dying bill in the House of Lords last Friday (July 18), Lord Falconer said, “I express my gratitude for the total lack of venom and the constructiveness with which they have approached the issue.” After passing a second reading, the bill passes to a Parliamentary committee which will scrutinise it and propose amendments. Here are some excerpts from speeches of opponents of the bill, beginning with Lord Robert Winston, one of the pioneers of IVF.

Lord Winston (Labour): Perhaps I might indulge myself briefly to tell noble Lords about my mother's death. For the last two or three years of her life we decided absolutely, given that there was modest and not inadequate medical care, that we would leave her at home and see to her ourselves and rotate regularly being with her. There was a 40-minute moment… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
25
 

UK assisted dying bill: the case for

The debate on the Assisted Dying bill in the House of Lords last Friday (July 18) was a remarkable display of eloquence, knowledge and passion. Here are some excerpts from speeches of supporters of the proposed legislation, beginning with Lord Falconer, a former Lord Chancellor, who proposed it.

A record number of Lords spoke, more than 130, in a debate which lasted 10 hours. However, this did not resolve the issue. After passing a second reading, the bill passes to a Parliamentary committee which will scrutinise it and propose amendments.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton (Labour): My Lords, in the last stages of a terminal illness, there are people who wish to end their life rather than struggle for the last few months, weeks, days or hours. Often it is not the pain that motivates such a wish, but the loss of independence and dignity. Those who love… click here to read whole article and make comments




 
July
19
 

Veterans Affairs scandal stems from a crisis of ethics: bioethicist

The crisis in the the US Veterans Affairs Department is fundamentally a crisis of ethics, according to the former hospital ethicist at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Evelyne Shuster.

The VA’s director, Eric Shinseki, was forced to resign after it was discovered that employees were generating fraudulent statistics to improve their performance reports. The problem was particularly acute in Phoenix.

The New York Times decried “poor management, a history of retaliation toward employees, cumbersome and outdated technology, and a shortage of doctors and nurses and physical space to treat patients.” The Wall Street Journal lamented a “corrosive culture” which had damaged patient care.

But not long ago, VA was at the forefront of quality care and patient safety. It had identified weaknesses in its ethical culture and had set up a multi-million dollar program to deal with it called Integrated Ethics. How did things… click here to read whole article and make comments




 

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 from the editor: Pointed Remarks
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Euthanasia could be option for poor, says Lithuanian health minister
26 Jul 2014
Guantanamo nurse refuses to participate in force-feedings
26 Jul 2014
The IVF industry must go green
25 Jul 2014
A psychiatrist who saved lives—with a gun
25 Jul 2014
Does dress matter in medicine?
25 Jul 2014