Protecting the Vulnerable


As a Hippocratic physician, I have pledged to support life from conception to natural death and, therefore, oppose any attempt to legalize euthanasia, such as Bill C-384.  As the ancient Greeks discovered, only such a stance can foster the trust of the vulnerable and protect them from those who might benefit from their misfortune.    A few years ago, an elderly patient of mine was admitted to hospital with a fluctuating level of consciousness.  Her medical problems included congestive heart failure, type II diabetes mellitus and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but, at the time, there was no explanation for her decreased level of consciousness and, therefore, no grounds to assume that she was dying. Several members of the nursing staff, however, opposed my hydrating the patient with parenteral fluid, a basic requirement of life.  They believed this would unnecessarily prolong her suffering.  Investigations, including blood work and a CT scan of her head, were unhelpful in arriving at a diagnosis.  Interestingly, when the woman temporarily regained consciousness, she complained of thirst!  Ultimately, the lady died peacefully of uncertain cause; nevertheless, it is troubling that members of the healthcare team were so quick to give up and call for the withdrawal of a basic need, especially without adequate information about the patient’s condition.  Imagine the vigilance and effort that would be required to protect the weak if euthanasia were ever to become legal.

Joseph, Physician
Calgary

Posted in: Blogroll on April 13th by shannon


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