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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Read the Fine Print! And Watch Out for those Medical Directives!

To care or to kill:
what does your medical directive say?
My sister is in the hospital. She has pneumonia, the antibiotic-resistant form. Not too surprising really
since she was a 40-year smoker and has compromised lungs. She's very sick, but not terminally ill. In fact, amazingly, she does NOT have lung cancer and has a long history of coming back from illness.

Fortunately, Jeanne has a power of attorney (me) who is well-informed on end-of-life issues. I know that the MOST and POLST forms (identifying patients wishes for treatment) can be  life-threatening. They are being used to pressure vulnerable patients into choosing non-treatment. I knew it was happening, but got a graphic example of it this week with my sister's situation.

My sister signed a form that was in the hospital's records which included two items that could kill her.

First, she said she wanted NO intravenous drugs -- only medication by mouth. She hates IVs (Don't we all?) but she went into the hospital with a condition that put her on a ventilator. Obviously, she wasn't able to take any drugs by mouth. Luckily, the hospital missed the directive and they were giving her antibiotics and other drugs by IV. If she hadn't or they hadn't put her on a ventilator she would probably be dead now.

When she came off the ventilator after 24 hours and was conscious, the hospital apologized for not following her directions about the drugs and revisited the question of IV administration.  She said, yes, she wanted the medications by IV. Another sister happened to be visiting when the nurse came in with the MOST form the next day. She phoned and alerted me, so I asked to review it on my next visit. I also brought Jeanne's medical directive that specifies being treated and living the full life God intended. Nothing the hospital was doing, in my opinion, was "extraordinary care." Even a ventilator used to treat an emergency condition is pretty standard treatment in the U. S.

Anyway, when I reviewed the form, I saw land mine number two. Jeanne told the nurse she did not want "artificially" administered hydration and nutrition. Yikes! That is wording used to starve and dehydrate patients to death, patients like Terri Schiavo, who are NOT terminally ill. I explained what that meant to my sister and got her to change that too. The hospital now has a directive that calls for all treatment including CPR, dialysis, etc. Nobody can know what will happen in the future. A person can be sick with a fully treatable condition that requires these things for a time to give the body a chance to heal. That's why having a prudent, knowledgable person making decisions for you if you are impaired is absolutely essential! No one knows the future and no one can make intelligent medical decisions foreseeing every possible situation that might happen in the years ahead.

Two years ago I organized an end of life meeting in my town of Woodstock, VA to discuss the dangers of the culture of death. Changes in palliative care are frightening and moving from a patient-oriented approach to a cost-benefit analysis approach. Hastening death saves money. More and more cases occur where insurance companies refuse expensive life-saving procedures and medications but happily offer assisted suicide cocktails to sick patients instead. Check it out here and here.

One doctor describes the impact of assisted suicide on his own practice.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a person choosing to refuse extraordinary means to preserve life. If I had a recurrence of cancer, I would probably refuse chemotherapy. But nobody else should make that decision for me. The culture of death is on the move targeting newborns for infanticide if they survive abortion and the elderly whom they consider "useless eaters" not worth the cost of treatment. There are plenty of historical examples of where that mindset leads. None of them are pretty!

If you want to know more about what's happening in the medical field with regard to end of life issues including the false definition of "brain death" that allows living patients to be used as organ farms, review the videos from our End of Life conference in 2016. Here's my introductory talk from that conference. You can link to the others here. You can also visit LifeTree. When you fight for the least of God's little ones, you are close to the heavenly kingdom and you are also fighting for yourself!

1 comment:

Luke said...

Practice pointer- one appointed to act under a "Power of Attorney" is an "Attorney in Fact."