Friday, October 31, 2014

Death Class - New Show Coming to NBC

In development since April, "Death Class" has finally landed at NBC, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The drama will center on Norma Bowe, a nurse who decides to teach a new class on death and dying at a New Jersey college.  Unexpectedly, the class becomes immensely popular among students and helps many of them to cope with their personal and family problems.

The drama is adapted from the book "Death Class: A True Story About Life" by Erika Hayasaki.  This description of the book appears applicable to the TV show: "Year after year, Norma Bowe faces a waiting list of students wanting to get into her death class at a college in New Jersey. Beyond the probing about last wills and good-bye letters and class trips to mortuaries and cemeteries is the underlying truth that a good, long stare at death can trigger a deeper appreciation of life."

"Death Class" will star Jennifer Carpenter as teacher Norma Bowe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Advance Care Planning Tools That Educate, Engage, and Empower

In the current issue of Public Policy & Aging Report, Charlie Sabatino, American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, has contributed "Advance Care Planning Tools That Educate, Engage, and Empower."

Sabatino reviews a variety of pathways, tools, workbooks, and decision aids have been emerging to facilitate advance care planning and to enable documentation of one’s goals and wishes. He focuses on tools that actively engage users or at least lead users through questions that result in a work product.

The issue also includes several articles on the Campaign to End Unwanted Medical Treatment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care - 2015 Conference

The Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care (MNHPC) is the state's leading hospice and palliative care network. It brings together providers, business partners, individuals and donors to increase knowledge, access services, and strengthen advocacy for people living with a serious illness or experiencing the end of life.

MNHPC will hold its 2015 Annual Conference April 19-21, 2015. Please follow this link to learn how to submit a proposal by November 17.

Jahi McMath - Prematurely Fostering Mistrust

Jahi McMath was adjudicated as legally dead in December 2013.  Her family has yet to deliver any cogent, definitive evidence that supports changing her diagnosis. Can they?  Will they?

If Jahi's family can establish (with independent expert evidence) that she no longer satisfies the criteria for death, that will be tremendously significant.  It will highlight the need to re-attend to the clinical tests by which we ascertain the complete cessation of brain function.  Public confidence in the current diagnosis will be seriously undermined.

But it is worth noting that public confidence is already being undermined - with just the mere suggestion and bald assertion that Jahi may be responsive.  Take, for example, this recent article in the National Catholic Register.

In short, it is one thing to establish an actual refutation, to show that someone can be alive even after a "correct" application of criteria for determining death by neurological criteria.  It is quite another to question the diagnosis based on spurious videos and unsubstantiated allegations. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More Secret DNR Orders in UK - Barbara Gibson

In the UK, clinicians may write a DNR order without consent, if they deem that to be in the patient's best interest.  But clinicians must still consult with the patient or family.  In other words, they may write a unilateral DNR order.  But they may not write a "secret" DNR order.
Yet, as I have recounted on this blog more than a dozen times, this continues to happen.   One of the most recent cases occurred in August 2014 at Ayr Hospital.

In an apology letter to the family, the said: “I wish to offer my sincere apologies again on behalf of all the staff concerned for the distressing events you have described, and wish to reassure you that lessons have been learned and that practice around DNACPR decisions are being reviewed and improved as a matter of urgency across the organization. . . .  It is evident from the review of Mrs Gibson’s medical records, and discussions with staff involved, there were failures in communicating the medical decisions around resuscitation to Mrs Gibson and yourselves.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Must we all die with forced hand-feeding in Advanced Dementia? Will others honor our Living Will?

A nice video by Stanley Terman reviewing the Margot Bentley case now on appeal in British Columbia.

Brittany Maynard Urges Palliative Care Specialist to Stop Misrepresenting Her Case

Brittany Maynard urges palliative care specialist Ira Byock to stop misrepresenting her case prior to his debate with Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee on the Diane Rehm Show this week
In comments that Brittany posted on the website for Rehm’s nationally-syndicated NPR show, she denied claims by Byock and other opponents of death with dignity that Compassion & Choices is using her to advance the aid-in-dying movement. Rehm read part of Brittany’s comments during her show. 

“I am Brittany Maynard and it concerns me that Dr. Ira Byock will speak on my ‘behalf’ at all again. I watched a special on PBS where this same individual spoke about my case as though he knew personal details about me, saying some things that were quite frankly not true.

“For example, he said that a gentle death would be available to me easily through hospice, unfortunately that would be after a great length of time, with lots of suffering (physical and emotional), and loss for my young body. He is right that this is not being accomplished successfully for many terminally ill Americans on a widespread basis across our country. This needs to change too, I agree with him there."

“But perhaps most disturbingly, Byock claimed that Compassion & Choices had somehow taken advantage of me through ‘exploitation’ and that I feel compelled to die now based on public expectations. I DO NOT, this is MY choice, I am not that weak. The day is my choice, I have the right to change my mind at any time, it is my right. I am very confident about this. This is a patient right that is critical to understanding Death with Dignity."

“The claim of exploitation is utterly false considering I had gone through the entire process of moving, physician approval for DWD [death with dignity], and filled my prescription before I EVER even spoke to anyone at Compassion and Choices about volunteering and decided to share my story. I support the organization because I support the cause. I believe this is a healthcare right and CHOICE that should be available to ALL terminally ill Americans."

“I made my decisions based on my wishes, clinical research, choices, discussions with physicians, and logic. I am not depressed or suicidal or on a ‘slippery slope.’ I have been in charge of this choice, gaining control of a terrifying terminal disease through the application of my own humane logic. We as a country have real issues with the way doctors are trained to speak about, educate and embrace realities of death."

“As a terminally ill patient, I find it disrespectful and disturbing when people discuss my personal health with details that are not accurate to push an agenda. My request is that physicians speak only what they directly know to be factually true and have a right to discuss. The best change for all our community, physicians and patients, will come from us pulling together and developing policies to protect the severely ill based on honesty, education, and humane treatment of suffering."

“I wish nothing but peace and healing for whom it is available, and a peaceful passing of comfortable choice for whom it is not.”

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Medical Overview of Brain Death (Video)

Adam Webb at Emory provides an excellent and accessible overview of the medical and ethical issues involved in brain death in this recent webinar for the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.