Monday, June 21, 2010

Idaho and Patients' Rights

The two great opening sentences of Maureen Dolan's CDAPress article on a new Idaho Law:

A new law goes into effect July 1 giving Idaho health care workers the right to refuse to provide end-of-life care they find morally objectionable.

Some fear the legislation places the conscience of a caregiver ahead of a dying person's rights.

I'm constantly amazed at how the media report down what they call the center line on end of life rights. Now, it's actually questionable whether a doctor making your health care decisions for you - despite your advanced directive, living will or other statements regarding informed consent for care - is a violation of your rights or not.

I think two factors feed into this odd kind of reporting; lack of knowledge of the dying process and reporters working to make end of life care stories contentious.

Of course, a doctor or nurse denying a patient legal, medically proven services is a violation of rights. But because religion's last bastion is the death bed, few are willing to call it what it is: a patronizingly old fashioned provider refusal law that pushes paternalistic ideas of faith and medicine on elder patients as a way to deny them autonomy. Just ask women. They've been up against such discriminatory laws for 4 decades. Let's see what baby boomers do with them.

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