Friday, June 25, 2010

Portland Doctor's License Suspended

Stuart Weisberg, a Portland Psychiatrist who planned to open an assisted suicide clinic, has had his license suspended.

Wesley J. Smith on the matter.

Compassion & Choice's response to the license suspension:

Compassion & Choices today responded to the Oregon Medical Board’s suspension of Dr. Stuart G. Weisberg’s medical license. Dr. Weisberg had proposed to open a private, for-profit facility to offer physician aid in dying.

Patient safety, ensured by precautions in the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) would have prevented Dr. Weisberg, a psychiatrist, from serving as an attending (prescribing) physician, “the physician who has primary responsibility for the care of the patient and treatment of the patient’s terminal disease.” Neither could he have been a consulting physician, “qualified by specialty or experience to make a professional diagnosis and prognosis regarding the patient’s disease.”ORS 127.800 s.1.01. A psychiatrist does not have the expertise necessary to treat or diagnose a terminal illness.

“Law enforcement and professional oversight are in place to ensure no individual tries to practice outside the law or established standard of practice,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, President of Compassion & Choices. “The Oregon Medical Board made the right move suspending Dr. Weisberg’s license for past violations improperly prescribing drugs. Additional safeguards would have prevented him from prescribing under the DWDA.”

”We understand a proposal like this attracts attention,” said Coombs Lee, “but aid in dying is legal in Oregon. It is part of the standard of practice along with other end-of-life care options. After twelve years, the DWDA is working as the voters of Oregon intended. Individuals can take control of their dying if suffering becomes intolerable. They usually choose to do so among the people they love in their own homes. Oregonians don’t need and don’t seem to much want the kind of setting Dr. Weisberg proposed. The rest of what he proposed to offer is illegal.”

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Germany, Latest Country to Wrestle with Assisted Suicide

From Deutsche Welle:

Germany's highest criminal court has ruled that passive assisted suicide is legal if the patient has explicitly decreed his or her wish that treatment used to keep the patient alive should be terminated.

"Turning off a ventilator or cutting a feeding tube fall under the category of permissable forms of terminating treatment," judge Ruth Rissing van Saan said.

The ruling by the Federal Court of Justice refers to a case involving Erika Kuellmer, a then terminally-ill patient in her seventies, who had been in a coma for five years. Prior to becoming unconscious, she indicated to her daughter that she would not want to be kept alive should she fall into a coma.

On the advice of her solicitor Wolfgang Putz, who specializes in medical law, the daughter tried to help her die by cutting the tube that was feeding her mother. But staff at the care home intervened and the patient survived another two weeks before dying a natural death.

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Finding Life in the Brain Dead.

BioEdge reports that new technology has been developed, cheaper and easier than the fMRI, that may allow doctors to communicate with those previously through brain dead. The "pro-life" groups who oppose patient autonomy and medical proxy laws for removal of patients from life-support are gonna love this one!

British researchers believe that they have found a way to communicate with people who appear to be in a vegetative state. Recent studies have shown that responses from some of these people can be detected with an fMRI scanner. Damian Cruse, of the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, has found that electrodes pasted to a patients scalp can detect the difference between imagining a clenched hand and imagining wiggling one’s toes. The electroencephalogram (EEG), is far cheaper and more portable than a fMRI machine. This makes it possible to ask patients Yes and No questions

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