Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lethal Drips, Euthansia, and Alito

The UUA makes a mumbo jumbo sounding stand against Alito's confirmation. Religous Conservatives writing thoughtful stuff on euthansia after the Oregon case; and here is a good one in Mere Comments on the use of morphine drips instead of anti biotics. (Can't use both together as the morphine will weaken the effect of the antibiotic.)
Or another example: euthanasia used to conceal medical incompetence. An old man enters the hospital with colon cancer. He has a colonectomy; but the surgeon botches the procedure and the intestines become infected. In two weeks the man develops a dangerously high fever and a huge distended belly. The family is warned that if anything is done their father will almost certainly die. A morphine drip, with lots of antibiotics, is recommended. But a pro-life doctor loathed by almost everybody rushes in to warn the family that if nothing is done he will certainly die, no almosts about it. The original surgeon refuses to touch the man. Finally she persuades an outside surgeon to open the man up -- and he discovers the problem area, under many liters of pus.

According to my source, about 30 people are euthanized every year at this hospital, and it is by no means unusual. Because of the vagaries of Medicare compensation, it's often a lot quicker and more profitable to let the elderly die when they're very sick and when they aren't in complete possession of their faculties -- that is, when the family would not be over-distraught should something unfortunate happen.
This is why the Religous Right trumps the Liberal Religous almsot everytime. Their bloggers just think harder about big issues while the Religous Liberal is out there holding some sign shouting 70's rhetoric.

Voters will be thinking about that Doctor in the ER at the next visit.

As for me, I know a lot Docs, so I'll put my faith with Alito. Many Docs I know will too.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure if thoughtful is the word I would use, but I do suspect it would be effective. It's an emotional narrative that helps frame the argument for the pro-lifers. The family would like to see the relative die for entirely selfish reasons, and nothing to do with the best interests or easing the pain of the relative. The doctor that would euthanize the patient is either incompetent, or interested in saving the hospital some money, again no interest in the patient. Only the hero of our story, the brave and maligned pro-lifer, can come and save the day. In the narrative the patient, of course, makes it through the surgery in perfect health. So all the pro-lifers can pat themselves on the back and think happy thoughts at the polls.

Liberals do need to come up with better narratives. Recast the story with the family knowing the relative has been in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time and has been going through misery and delirium for months on end. The doctor interested in euthanasia is thoughtful, understanding, and competent. The pro-lifer is uninterested in the suffering of the patient and despite reality just keeps pleading with the family to have hope. The pro-life doctor wins the argument, and so the patient dies on the operating table at the hands of the incompetent pro-life doctor instead of surrounded by family and friends.

The liberal narrative would of course need some added "flavor" to make it sound more real, it could use the same vague "heard this from a friend" to keep it from being verified.

Bill Baar said...

Read the Institute of Medicine's report on Medical errors, and pay real close attention to your Docs when they want to put you on a morphine drip.

That's my advice anon.

Anonymous said...

It's always a good idea to be as informed as possible when it comes to your medical care.

The question is if elderly are recieving poor healtch care do you use that information to vote republican because of euthansia issues, or do you use that info to vote democrat because they are less likely to protect incompetent doctors from legitimate malpractice lawsuits? Or push for universal health care so those "bad doctors" have less profit motive? Or do you forget the issues entirely and go with the "deep thinkers" writing feel good narratives?

I do agree with you on one thing. The Republicans do have a better spin machine.

Bill Baar said...

I'd vote for anyone, Republican or Democrat, who's opposed to what the Dutch have been doing with their Groningen Protocols.

Infanticide probably the greater risk.