Monday, June 11, 2012

Very Quick Links

Joe Klein talking about his new cover story for Time Magazine, "How to Die."

Ladies' Home Journal's Diana K. Sugg does a great story on what it's like to be a hospice nurse.  Of course it's got the LHJ style (you know it, saccharine nice--"gentle grounded spirit"?!--perfect for a story like this), but it also commendably picks up and debunks some long-standing misconceptions about hospice:

Others, unnecessarily worried about drug addiction, won't give their sick relative pain medicine when it's needed. And some patients are afraid of taking morphine, thinking it will stop their breathing or make them feel out of it. "Did you take the medicine?" Campbell asks a cancer patient, who is holding her rib cage in agony. Campbell squats beside the hesitant woman and assures her she'll stay with her while she takes it, to make sure she's okay. The patient is worried she'll just sleep away the time she has left, but pain medicine often allows a person to feel better and actually do more.

Don't miss the accompanying photo essay by Monica Lopossay.

It looks like those who support aid in dying/euthanasia in Russia come from the same demographic as supporters in the U.S.

GeriPal points us to a post by Paula Span at the NY Times New Old Age blog that highlights a new study done in party by two GeriPal writers for Health Affairs, "Half of Older Americans Seen In Emergency Department In Last Month of Life; Most Admitted to Hospital, And Many Die There."  I don't think these findings surprise anyone watching EOL and hospice issues.  But it does confirm what we've all been wringing our hands about:  hospitals are dangerous, particularly for elders; there has to be a better way to meet the health care needs of the dying; that is cheaper, more friendly and more comfortable.

“It’s really traumatic to watch anybody die. I’ve been with my parents and grandparents, but this is different. This is healthy people,” Pickett said. “It’s legalized murder.” From Obit's recent article by Natalie Pompilio on Rev. Carroll "Bud" Pickett, a former death row chaplain.

The July issue of The Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing is out.  I'm looking forward to reading a piece on depression in patients with terminal illnesses, "As if the Cancer Wasn't Enough."

Barbara Combs Lee writes about how the Catholic Church and Right to Life organizations in Georgia endangered patient autonomy and choice there with a new bill HB 1114:

The bulk of the bill — 37 lines — frets over patient decision-making and medical treatment in minute detail. It focuses on doctors more than the voyeurs and predators that endanger society. The new law repeatedly specifies that any withholding, withdrawing, prescribing, administering or dispensing must be solely intended and calculated to relieve symptoms and never to cause death. Some tried to allow treatment that “eases the dying process,” but the lawmakers deemed that language too permissive and generous.

Solitary Watch points us to a new series on prison deaths in Arizona, by Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic.  You can read the first one here, on the "second death row," solitary confinement, where 37 inmates have committed suicide over the past two years.


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