What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Right to Die Debate Heating Up

Nice article in the November 3rd Calgary Herald! It has suddenly occurred to a few University types that, as I have said many times, dying is cost effective; or maybe they have finally gotten brave enough to state the obvious. Or maybe they finally acknowledge that our Universal Healthcare System god is demanding human sacrifices. Several noted “authorities” are quoted as saying it is time to have discussions re “dying with dignity” and I’m all for it, but should we even mention rising healthcare costs as part of the discussion? Apparently Dr. Carruthers, Ottawa hospital Chief of Staff thinks so and is quoted in the article as saying “The cost of healthcare is not sustainable…..and the society is going to have to make some tough decisions”. But Dr. Robert Cushman, CEO of the Chaplain Local Health Integration Network in Eastern Ontario wins the prize for primitive and retrograde thinking when apparently he proclaims that seniors deserve independence and dignity in the twilight of their lives and the debate should take place in the context of ballooning healthcare costs.
Deserve independence and dignity?? Is there a suggestion here that when one looses their independence they have lost their dignity? I recall that ancient tribes would leave their elders, who were frail and dependent, with some food and water and move on with their migration. After all, these frail dependant people endangered the group by slowing them up. By leaving them behind the frail elderly could fight off the wild animals and die with dignity.
I guess what really P-ssed me off about this article and the quotations was that there was the distinct inference that rising costs in our health care system should be laid at the feet of the chronically ill and frail elderly, THE VERY GROUP THAT OUR PUBLICALLY FUNDED HEALTHCARE SYSTEM WAS INTENDED TO PROTECT. The second thing that riled me was the suggestion that the term “dying with dignity” had been used to influence the discussion. In my experience the more assistance the patient and their families receive (all of it costing money) in their final months and days, the more likely the patient will die with dignity. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are usually the result of failed intervention programs, either through ignorance or lack of resources.


Anonymous Lanny said...

I'm reading Mark Steyn's book, America Alone, right now. He is stating that due to declining birth rates in liberal societies right now, that societies with large social programs are not able to sustain the programs as the youth aren't there to pay for these programs anymore.

Rather than promoting euthanasia to "save the system", I propose promoting "pro-life" and stopping abortions. These social engineers seems to promote killing babies and the elderly for a better society and saving criminals from death row. It is truly scary how illogical and inhuman these arguments are and how readily people jump on the bandwagon. I'm thinking that as I get older and my MS progresses, I will commit a few murders so that someone truly cares about my wellbeing.

Of course it is so much safer to prey on the weak.

11/11/07 9:55 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Lanny, we must not stop at making abortion illegal- There are other factors to consider, such as birth control, women getting education and having careers and so forth.

In order to keep the birth rate up, or at least preventing population growth by immigration (without which I wouldn't be here, never mind abortion!), we not only have to make abortions and birth control illegal, but we have to FORCE all women to have children by the time they are 25. We can declare all women's uteruses property of the state. Failure to comply would be incarceration and artificial insemination. If that failed, then women would be fined for being infertile-the fine would contribute to the care of the elderly.

How's that for social engineering?

As for end-of-life dignity, at this point I won't go there, as I cannot possibly even fathom all the intricacies involved. I know what my grandmother is going through, and is refusing treatment. She is proud, and independent, and is finding it difficult to ask for help even though its most overwhelmingly there and without judgement. Did the system fail her? There is so much grey, in between the black and white of right and wrong. There has been a lot of chronic illness in my family these past few years, and thus far, no one has had any difficulties with the system, young and old. My grandmother's care was just as timely and thorough as my nephew's, whose life was saved. Had anyone ever suggested to my grandmother that she would be a burden on society or any of us, I would be horrified. However, I fail to see how I can blame her personal feelings of being a burden on the system if the system has been there for her since the beginning. Just my experience and two cents.

12/11/07 8:02 AM  
Blogger Al said...

I think you just made my point! "if anyone ever suggested to my grandmother that she was a burden on society I would be horrified". Having discussions on euthanasia and assisted suicide within the context of rising healthcare costs and an aging population IS suggesting to your grandmother that if she seeks help she IS a burden on society, so start getting horrified. Her generation and my generation strongly believe in self reliance. It is an integral part of our dignity. When my wife and I went to the emergency department six months ago (she was relatively well yet) she was asked if she wanted to be resuscitated should her breathing or heart were to stop. This has become a routine question asked when entering our acute care system. My wife felt guilty for answering in the affirmative. On another occasion a physician told her "just take more morphine, you know you have cancer" (sort of your going to die anyway). The point is that if your grandmother has to ASK for help she has lost dignity. Health care in Canada was brought in as Universal so that the poor,frail elderly and chronically ill would not have to "negotiate or ask" for help because of financial circumstances. Now we want to, and have, discussions in our society about assisted suicide, euthanasia and the burden of rising healthcare costs with the finger pointed to the chronically ill and the aging. Our generation is aging but not stupid Don't insult us with the crap about dying with dignity within the context of a failing healthcare system.

12/11/07 2:16 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

My grandmother doesn't have to "ask" as in its not there until she asks for it, but it is already in place for her should she want it (and except for a couple visits by the nurse each week, she seems ok with it), maybe thats a better way of putting it. I do agree with you about factoring in the cost of caring for the elderly and making that public, although that doesn't change my core feelings about right-to-die ethics. Is it being discussed as such in situ? Or is it media discussion on rising health care costs and the frail elderly? Maybe I don't get what you are saying. In my Grandmother's point of view ( we have discussed this to some extent) she hasn't been inundated with these negative messages and is not refusing treatment out of guilt. She says she's satisfied with her life and its time for her to go. She feels lucky she was so healthy up until the very end. But as I said, this is the only experience I can draw upon and this is such a touchy subject. Everyone has different experiences and I guess our responsibility is to treat our "elders" as they once treated us! We've already let our parents know that we will be there for them when the time comes, and I guess they changed enough of my dirty diapers! I won't spank them when they are bad though ;)

Strangely enough, the ones making my grandmother feel the worst are the evangelicals affiliated with my mother's church (another long story for another day....sigh) that keep stopping by, calling her and sending her letters telling her what religion she should convert to before she dies, "reminding" her about eternal damnation and stuff like that. She has her own views on where she is going and hopes to join her late husband there. She's too nice to tell these folks (and my mother for that matter) to %$^& off. my point to that was they are making her feel a lot more guilty than the healthcare system is!

12/11/07 4:43 PM  

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