Palliative care and compassion

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This medical specialty is intended to relieve extreme suffering in the final stages of advanced illness and give the dying patient personal care and human dignity. The right-to-die movement has seized on it as yet another inroad to sell its ideology that some lives aren’t worth living, and suffering is an unnecessary evil. And they’re doing it under the guise of ‘compassion.’

Just when a new study shows how acutely beneficial this care really is…

Adding palliative care early to patients’ standard regimens not only improves their quality of life but lengthens their life as well, according to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Unlike traditional hospice care, which is available to patients expected to live no more than six months and typically requires them to forgo curative treatment, palliative care can be offered in addition to regular care, and can start immediately after diagnosis…

Patients in the palliative-care group had a 50% lower depression rate, and that didn’t result from the use of antidepressant drugs, said Dr. Jennifer Temel, lead author of the study and an oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“It’s clearly something about how the palliative-care clinicians were communicating with them and managing them that improved their mood,” she said.

The study may help physicians better understand what the medical specialty of palliative care can offer to patients who are struggling with intense physical and emotional suffering, Temel said.

The former Hemlock Society is using this to suggest to struggling patients a way out. The group renamed themselves ‘Compassion and Choices’ to soft-sell death. Their director recently wrote this letter to the New York Times.

Leven starts by giving kudos to the medical community for offering palliative care, and New York Governor David Paterson for signing into law legislation assuring that patients will be informed of their right to receive it. All the way to the end of the final sentence of the letter, Leven strikes the tone of advocacy for patients and their end of life care.

The law will result in the provision of more and earlier palliative care, which The New England Journal of Medicine study found greatly benefits patients, and more and earlier referrals to hospice, as well as greater respect for patient wishes.

Those last five words hold the key to their agenda. So by sponsoring and advocating for this end of life care, the former Hemlock Society is positioning itself to introduce assisted suicide as one of the options patients may choose, and helping them ask for it more often.

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