Alex Schadenberg

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Medical error, euthanasia and assisted suicide

Alex Schadenberg
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A power point presentation developed by Christine Koczmara RN BSc and Cathy Isman RN(CPN) (C) for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices states that it was estimated in 1999 that 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical mistakes which is almost equal to the number of combined yearly deaths from Car Accidents, Breast Cancer, and Aids (Link).

A Canadian study from 2004 found that 7.5% of patients in Canadian hospitals are harmed from their care, 37% of the adverse events were preventable and more than 9250 Canadians died every year from medical errors (Link).

The same power point presentation estimated that only 3% – 6% of all medical errors are reported (Link).

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico (62) from Calabria Italy died at the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland after receiving a wrong diagnosis. Many medical errors will lead to negative health conditions, some medical errors will lead to death, assisted suicide always leads to death (Link).

In July 2013, a Swiss regional court found Dr. Philippe Freiburghaus guilty of assisting a suicide without properly diagnosing his patient. On April 23, 2014, the Swiss court of appeal overturned the conviction of Freiburghaus (Link).

In September 2013, Nancy Verhelst asked to die by euthanasia in Belgium after experiencing a “botched” sex change operation (Link).

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Statistics from Belgium indicate that up to 32% of all assisted deaths are done without explicit request (Link) and up to 47% of all assisted deaths go unreported (Link). In the Netherlands the rate of assisted death without explicit request is lower than in Belgium and the rate of unreported assisted deaths is 23% (Link).

Since acts of assisted death cause the direct and intentional death of the person, and since the “safeguards” that are designed to protect patients, in the law, are not followed, can legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide ever be safe?

Considering the problem of medical error, the reality that human beings fail, the reality that many physicians have been taught to believe that certain human lives are not worth living (Quality of Life) and considering the regularity of medical error and the reality, can legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide ever be safe?

These facts and many more speak for themselves.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg

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