B.C. woman with dementia pens right-to-die manifesto before ending her life

By Josh Elliott

Gillian Bennett

A B.C. woman experiencing the early stages of dementia has killed herself and left behind an open letter advocating for assisted suicide.

Gillian Bennett, 83, said she didn’t want to lose her “self” to dementia and leave behind an “empty husk” in a letter posted to her blog on Monday, shortly before she ended her life. “I will take my life today around noon,” she wrote. “It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost me.”

Bennett was diagnosed with dementia three years ago. Her blog post says she opted to end her life now, before she lost her ability to act, because she could feel the disease quickly eroding her mind. “Ever so gradually at first, much faster now, I am turning into a vegetable,” Bennett wrote.

She reportedly died at about 11:30 a.m. on Monday after ingesting a lethal drug. She spent her last moments laying on a foam mattress outside her Bowen Island home, with her husband at her side.

“I just sat there and held her hand,” her husband Jonathan Bennett told CTV Vancouver.

Gillian Bennett said she wanted her death to spur the conversation around assisted suicide. “We do NOT talk much about how we die,” she said. “Yet facing death is thoroughly interesting and absorbing and challenging.”

Bennett pointed to law, religion and medicine as three institutions that need to change their approaches to assisted suicide. “My hope is that these institutions will continue to transform themselves, and that the medical profession will mandate, through sensitive and appropriate protocols, the administration of a lethal dose to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient, in accordance with her Living Will,” she wrote.

Bennett said everyone by the age of 50 should have a living will that says how and under what circumstances they would like to die. “Legally, everyone should have an obligation to make a Will, which would be stored electronically, could not be destroyed, and would be available automatically to any hospital in the world,” she wrote. “I do not have all the answers, but I do think I’m raising questions that need to be raised,” she added.

In her blog post, Bennett said she didn’t want to leave behind a “living carcass” that would be a financial burden on the Canadian healthcare system, and a chore for her loved ones.

“I can live or vegetate for perhaps 10 years in hospital at Canada’s expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year,” she wrote. “It is a ludicrous, wasteful affair.”

Bennett claimed that rising life expectancy and an aging population make the elderly a growing burden on society – a burden to which she does not want to contribute. “All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country’s money but not having the faintest idea of who I am,” she wrote.

Bennett’s husband and family were aware of her decision ahead of time, she said. “In our family it is recognized that any adult has the right to make her own decision,” Bennett said. Her husband did not help her with the suicide but was present when she died, according to the blog post.

Bennett’s son and daughter spent the weekend visiting with her before she died.

“She was just at complete peace,” said her son, Guy. “My mom knew her window was closing. She knew that it was approaching the time when she could just wake up one morning and not remember her plan.”

Gillian Bennett is survived by her husband, two children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end,” Gillian Bennett said. “I know when it’s time to leave and I do not find it scary.”

Complete Article HERE!

Dying to Know Day a national call to action to remove taboos around death

by GERALDINE CARDOZO

Death 'fans' Clive Salzer, Gypsy Artemis and Anthea Paterson planning events around Dying

Death ‘fans’ Clive Salzer, Gypsy Artemis and Anthea Paterson planning events around Dying to Know Day on the Central Coast.

For Umina retirees Anthea Paterson and Clive Salzer, life has never been better since facing up to death.

The couple, who call themselves “death fans” say they had a life-changing experience after attending an end-of-life course.

“Both our mothers are 94 and approaching death, so we went along to an end of life course to try and prepare ourselves for what is to come,” Mr Salzer said.

“While it was very emotional, the experience has changed our outlook on life and death completely.”

The pair are now part of the Central Coast End of Life Collective, which is associated with the Groundswell Project – the group behind Dying to Know Day.

“This is a national day of action challenging the taboo of death and bringing to life conversations around death, dying and bereavement,” Central Coast organiser Gypsy Artemis said.

Making a will is an important part in dealing with the inevitability of death.

Making a will is an important part in dealing with the inevitability of death.

“To me, Dying to Know Day is about saying things you may wish you’d never left unsaid.”

Ms Artemis, formerly known as Kim Ryder, said her fascination with “society’s last taboo” was sparked after a near-death experience in 1997.

“This changed my outlook on life forever and then my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in 2008. This was my first first-hand experience with death and I started thinking about how we, as a society, don’t deal with death very well.”

For Mrs Paterson, talking about death has helped her deal with grief associated with the death of her father.

“It’s not a morbid thing, this is about exploring death to enhance life,” she said.

ORGANISE YOUR OWN FUNERAL

Find out information about how to organise your own funeral, alternatives to cremation, how to make a will and advanced care plan at Dying to Know events next week. For details visit www.dyingtoknowday.org.

 
Complete Article HERE!

Assisted dying law would lessen suffering says Falconer

Legalising assisting dying would mean “less suffering not more deaths”, a leading campaigner has said.

Lord Falconer, whose private member’s bill would legalise the practice for some terminally ill patients, said a “limited” change was needed to the law to give people choice on their deaths.

But Lord Tebbit said it would create “too much of a financial incentive for the taking of life”.

The bill passed its second reading in the Lords on Friday without a vote.

The proposed legislation would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

Making the case for his bill, Lord Falconer insisted that the “final decision must always be made by the patient”, with safeguards to prevent “abuse”

About 130 peers requested to speak in a debate that lasted for around 10 hours.

‘Lonely death’

The bill will now be examined line-by-line by peers in the Lords as it passes to committee stage.

However, without government backing, MPs are unlikely to get a chance to debate it in the Commons, meaning it will not become law.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is not “convinced” by the arguments for legalising assisted dying but the bill has won the backing of Lib Dem Care Minister Norman Lamb.

 

Lord Falconer speaking in the Lords
Lord Falconer made the case for a change in the law on Friday

The legislation would allow a terminally ill, mentally competent adult, making the choice of their own free will and after meeting strict legal safeguards, to request life-ending medication from a doctor.

Two independent doctors would be required to agree that the patient had made an informed decision to die.

Opening the debate in a packed house, Lord Falconer – a former Labour Lord Chancellor – told peers the current legal situation permitted the wealthy to travel abroad to take their own life while others were left “in despair” to suffer a “lonely, cruel death”.

“The current situation leaves the rich able to go to Switzerland, the majority reliant on amateur assistants, the compassionate treated like criminals and no safeguards in terms of undue pressure now,” he said.

He said many people were so worried about “implicating their loves ones in a criminal enterprise” by asking them for help to die that they took their lives “by hoarding pills or putting a plastic bag over their heads”.

Legalising assisted dying, he argued would allow a “small number” of people who didn’t want to “go through the last months, weeks, days and hours” of life to die with dignity.

Lord Falconer’s bill was backed by Lord Avebury, the former Liberal MP, who was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer in 2011.

He urged peers to consider helping thousands of people whom he said faced “weeks of torture before they die a means of escaping from that unnecessary fate”.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said he had changed his mind about the issue and now believed that belief in assisted dying was “quite compatible” with being a Christian.

“When suffering is so great, when some patients already know that they are at the end of life, make repeated pleas to die, it seems a denial of the loving compassion that is the hallmark of Christianity to refuse to allow them to fulfil their clearly stated request,” he said.

line

Assisted dying debate

Nurse and patient holding hands

What is the current law on assisted dying around the UK?

The 1961 Suicide Act makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt in England and Wales. Anyone doing so could face up to 14 years in prison.

The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland. There is no specific law on assisted suicide in Scotland, creating some uncertainty, although in theory someone could be prosecuted under homicide legislation.

Have there been any previous attempts to change the law?

There have already been several attempts to legalise assisted dying, but these have been rejected.

The Commission on Assisted Dying, established and funded by campaigners who have been calling for a change in the law, concluded in 2012 that there was a “strong case” for allowing assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill in England and Wales.

But the medical profession and disability rights groups, among others, argue that the law should not be changed because it is there to protect the vulnerable in society.

What is the situation abroad?

In other countries, such as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, legislation has been introduced to allow assisted dying. France is considering a possible introduction of similar legislation, although there is opposition from its medical ethics council.

Campaign group Dignity in Dying predicts that a lot more countries will follow suit.

 

line

But the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said the proposed legislation was “not about relieving pain and suffering” but was based on the misguided belief that “ending your life in circumstances of distress is an assertion of human freedom”.

‘Confronting mortality’

Opponent of assisted dying outside ParliamentOpponents of assisted dying protest against a change in the law outside Parliament
Supporters of assisted dyingActress Susan Hampshire leads a demonstration in favour of a change in the law

He told peers that his mother had been given weeks to live after being diagnosed with throat cancer but, with the help of others, had lived for a further 18 months.

“Dying well is a positive achievement of a task which belongs to our humanity,” he said.

Calling for a Royal Commission to be set up to examine the issue, he added: “This is far too a complex and sensitive issue to rush through Parliament and to decide on the basis of competing personal stories.”

Former High Court Judge Baroness Butler-Sloss said the proposed safeguards were “utterly inadequate” while former Tory cabinet minister Lord Tebbit said it could put pressure on people who are unable to care for themselves to “do the decent thing in order to cease to be a burden on others”.

Lord Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed in the 1984 Brighton bombing, also suggested legalising assisted dying could lead to personal and financial disputes between loved ones and relatives.

“The bill would be a breeding ground for vultures, both corporate and individual. It creates too much financial incentive for the taking of life.”

The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Sean Curran said the future of the legislation – and whether it ever makes it to the House of Commons – will be decided after the summer recess.

Complete Article HERE!

Assisted dying: Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey backs bill

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey says he will support legislation that would make it legal for terminally ill people in England and Wales to receive help to end their lives.

Lord Carey

 

Lord Carey writes in the Daily Mail that he has dropped his opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill “in the face of the reality of needless suffering”.

But the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called the bill “mistaken and dangerous”.

Peers will debate the bill on Friday.

‘Not anti-Christian’

Tabled by Labour peer Lord Falconer, the legislation would make it legal for adults in England and Wales to be given assistance ending their own life. It would apply to those with less than six months to live.

Two doctors would have to independently confirm the patient was terminally ill and had reached their own, informed decision to die.

Some 110 peers are already listed to speak when the House of Lords debates the private members bill on Friday.

Insisting it would not be “anti-Christian” to change the law, Lord Carey said the current situation risked “undermining the principle of human concern which should lie at the heart of our society”.

He added: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.”

Lord Falconer: “Nobody wants people who are properly motivated by compassion to be prosecuted”

When Lord Carey was still the Archbishop of Canterbury he was among the opponents of Lord Joffe’s Assisting Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which was successfully blocked in the House of Lords in 2006.

But in his article in Saturday’s Daily Mail Lord Carey said: “The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”

He said it was the case of Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome and died after being refused the legal right to die , who had had the “deepest influence” on his decision.

Mr Nicklinson’s widow Jane, said Lord Carey’s switch was “huge”.

“I’m amazed actually and thrilled because the Church has always been one of our greatest opponents,” she told BBC Radio 5 live.

“Someone shouldn’t be forced to stay alive with daily suffering – his life was a living hell.”

Complete Article HERE!

Quebec passes landmark end-of-life-care bill

Act respecting end-of-life care, Bill 52, allows terminally ill patients to choose death

veronique-hivon-dying-with-dignityTerminally ill patients in Quebec now have the right to choose to die.

The non-partisan Bill 52, also known as an act respecting end-of-life care, passed Thursday afternoon in a free vote at the National Assembly in Quebec City.

‘Dying with dignity means dying with the least amount of suffering,’— Véronique Hivon, PQ member of the National Assembly

The bill passed 94-22. There were no abstentions.

“Sometimes when you are suffering in pain, one hour can feel like one week.… The protection of the vulnerable is reflected in every aspect of this bill,” said Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly Véronique Hivon, who drafted the bill when she was minister of social services under the former PQ government.

Bill 52 allows for and outlines under which conditions terminally ill Quebecers can request to receive medical aid in dying.

gaetan-barette-veronique-hivon

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, right, stood with members of the National Assembly from the three other parties (including Véronique Hivon, who drafted the bill) in late May to affirm the cross-partisan support for Bill 52. (CBC)

The main indicator for requesting medical aid in dying is “an incurable disease, an incurable illness, which is causing unbearable suffering.”

“For me, dying with dignity means dying with the least amount of suffering … and respecting who that person always was during his or her whole life,” Hivon said in the National Assembly before the vote took place.

Her speech was followed by applause and a standing ovation.

Liberal Christine St-Pierre was one of the 22 who voted against Bill 52.

“I don’t believe it’s right to give [anyone] the power to kill somebody,” St-Pierre said.

This legislation is the first of its kind in Canada. Its passage comes at a time when the right to die is being heavily debated in the rest of the country.

The Parti Québécois tabled the bill nearly a year ago after years of work from both the PQ and the Liberal government that came before it.

A committee on dying with dignity was assembled during Jean Charest’stenure as Quebec premier to study the issue and produce a report.

Its massive report, filed in March 2012, provided the foundation for Bill 52.​

However, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard refused to play ball with the PQ when the party tried to force the bill into passage right before calling an election. Bill 52 died on the order paper as a result.

During the 2014 Quebec election campaign, Couillard promised to reintroduce the bill as it was drafted at the earliest possible moment during the new parliamentary session.

He also got the support from all four parties to reintroduce the bill at the stage it had died, instead of starting from square one.

It was reintroduced in late May by the new Liberal government.

Liberal Health Minister Gaétan Barrette made that announcementwhile standing side by side with MNAs from the three other parties.

“Between the four of us, we think the bill will pass strongly,” Barrette said at the time.

Complete Article HERE!

Aid In Dying, Part 2

“If you expect heroics from the people who attend you, even if it doesn’t include hastening your death, you’d be well advised to treat your attendants as heroes. Mutual respect and consideration, honor and compassion should be the hallmarks of your relationship with them.”

 

(We pick up our discussion where we left off last time. Part 1 is HERE.)

One of the most predictable questions I get when I present on the topic of aid in dying is; how do I go about finding someone who will be willing to help me? And I always answer the same way; the only way to know is by asking.

AidinDyingphoto_mediumI suggest that anyone looking for help with their end of life choices begin by interviewing those they love, to see who may have psychological, emotional, or moral reservations about assisting them in this fashion. I suggest that you never ask anyone to violate his/her ethical code regardless of how much you need help.

Once you find the person(s) you are looking for, I suggest that you check in with this person regularly to see if their level of commitment remains high, and excuse anyone who may have developed the least reservation about helping you as the time approaches. I suggest that you keep the number of people involved to the smallest number possible. One or two people at the most is my recommendation. Confidentiality and coordination of effort is essential and a large group make that virtually impossible.

At this point in the presentation I share two stories of very different death scenes to make my point. I was invited to consult on both occasions.

Jeffery was dying of AIDS. He and Alex, his lover of nearly twenty years, were preparing for his imminent death. Jeffery had a fear that he was beginning to slide into dementia, which was his worst nightmare. He wanted to short-circuit this final indignity and wanted to know if I would help them plan a strategy for proactively ending his life. I told them that I would be happy to offer them whatever information I had.street drugs

On this first visit with them I tried to assess the situation; to get a feel for the level of commitment that each person was bringing to this endeavor. There was no doubt about it, Jeffery was actively dying, his doctor confirmed the dementia diagnosis, and so time was of the essence.

I asked, “Have you guys done your homework?”

“If you mean, have we squirreled away enough medications to do the trick, the answer is no. We never gave this eventuality a thought until recently and now there’s not enough time to do that.”

“Will your doctor assist you with a prescription for a lethal dose of, let’s say, a barbiturate?”

“Doubt it. We’ve never talked to her about this. I don’t even know where she stands on the issue.”

“Well, then, how were you going to make this happen?”

“We were thinking about using street drugs, you know, coke and heroin. I also have some oral morphine left over from a friend who died last year.”

the_end_life_by_liquifiedsoul-d3fuz2nThat’s it? That’s your plan? What if you mess up on the dosage or something else goes wrong? I’ve seen it happen. You could be in worse shape than you are now and still be alive. Do you have a Plan B?”

Jeffery responded; “Alex and I talked about it some and Alex promised that he wouldn’t let me suffer.”

“But what does that mean? Alex, do you know what it is you are promising?”

The three of us talked for hours about their half-baked scheme. I tried to get them to see how implausible their plan was and how serious the consequences would be if there was a miscalculation. They would have none of it. Their love for each other and Alex’s blind commitment to Jeffery to preserve him from any more suffering was all there was to know. Alex would be as resourceful as necessary, even if it meant he had to suffocate Jeffery in the end.

Ten days later I was invited to their home again. I didn’t realize it at first, but earlier that day they had set their plan in motion. Alex had scored some cocaine, freebased it, and watched as Jeffery shot up. Both of these guys had had a long history with intravenous drug use so all of this was familiar territory. Unfortunately, Jeffery’s history with drug use complicated matters considerably. He had built up a tolerance to the drug and even though he was nothing more than skin and bones, the dose was not lethal. This is the situation as I found it. Jeffery was comatose and appeared near death, and Alex was at his wit’s end.

“He’s been like that for hours. I thought for sure he’d be dead by now. I think we’ve screwed up. What am I gonna do now?”

“I’m afraid I can’t advise you. I can only help you weigh your options.”

As I saw it, Alex had two options. He could call the paramedics and have them try to revive Jeffery with all the trauma that would involve, or he could honor the commitment he made to Jeffery and complete the plan they rehearsed.

Then there was Earl and his wife Christina. Earl was in the final stages of lung cancer. He was a hard, difficult man, plagued angerby many personal demons. Even when he was well, people used to say that he was an acquired taste, and if you ask me, that was being generous. The sicker he got, the more difficult he became. He alienated just about everyone – his sons, his friends, even the people from hospice. No one could tolerate his fury. In the end there was only Christina.

Some weeks before he died, Earl demanded that Christina call me over for a visit. I wasn’t inclined to accept the summons because I hated to see how he treated her, but Christina sounded so defeated on the phone that I relented and made plans to stop by the following day. Nothing had changed in the eight months since my last visit. Despite being a mere shadow of his former self, Earl was as abusive as ever. How had Christina been able to stand it all this time, I wondered.

“I want to die! I want this to be over now. I can’t get decent care. All these fuckin’ doctors and nurses make me sick. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

“He doesn’t mean that, Richard,” Christina interjected. “He gets good care.”

“Pipe down! I’m doing the talking. What do you know about it anyway? She don’t know nothin’ about what it’s like for me. Listen, Richard, I want to die. I want to end it right now, but I need help. I’m sick of this.”

“What kind of help do you need?” I asked.

“I read Final Exit, you know. I know how to do it. I got all these pills I can take.” Earl pointed to the cache of pill bottles in the nightstand drawer. “But I don’t want any slip-ups. I need someone to help me with the plastic bag at the right time, and she won’t help me.” He nodded in the direction of his long-suffering wife.

keep-calm-and-do-your-homework-100It was true. Christina absolutely refused to help. When I asked her why, she could only sheepishly shrug her shoulders. There was clearly much more to this than what was on the surface.

Earl then turned his attention to me. “You got to help me. You’re the only one left.”

“Earl, I won’t and can’t. It’s not that your request is out of line. It’s because I’m a stranger here. In all the years that we’ve known each other, you’ve never once invited even the most casual of friendships to form between us. You’ve always kept me out. You can’t ask me to overlook that now. You’re asking me to participate in one of the most intimate experiences two people can have in life and, I’m afraid, there just isn’t any foundation for that here. I’m sorry.”

“You’re a fuckin’ coward, just like everybody else. So you can just get the hell out and leave me alone. Damn you all!”

I hated to leave Christina alone with him, but I did as he demanded. Christina showed me to the door.

“Why won’t you help him?” I asked, when she and I were alone. “It would be the end of your misery.”

“That’s exactly why I won’t. After all these years, I couldn’t be sure whether helping him die would be an act of compassion, which would end his suffering, or an act of violence, which would end mine.”

These two scenarios provide a blueprint of what not to do if you are seriously considering having someone assist you to die. If you expect heroics from the people who attend you, even if it doesn’t include hastening your death, you’d be well advised to treat your attendants as heroes. Mutual respect and consideration, honor and compassion should be the hallmarks of your relationship with them.

You also have to have a well-thought out plan. And a “Plan B.” There’s no substitute for meticulous attention to detail. Who, what, when, where, and how. Do your homework!

A ‘Code Death’ for Dying Patients

By JESSICA NUTIK ZITTER, M.D.

Sadly, but with conviction, I recently removed breathing tubes from three patients in intensive care.

As an I.C.U. doctor, I am trained to save lives. Yet the reality is that some of my patients are beyond saving. And while I can use the tricks of my trade to keep their bodies going, many will never return to a quality of life that they, or anyone else, would be willing to accept.

Code DeathI was trained to use highly sophisticated tools to rescue those even beyond the brink of death. But I was never trained how to unhook these tools. I never learned how to help my patients die. I committed the protocols of lifesaving to memory and get recertified every two years to handle a Code Blue, which alerts us to the need for immediate resuscitation. Yet a Code Blue is rarely successful. Very few patients ever leave the hospital afterward. Those that do rarely wake up again.

It has become clear to me in my years on this job that we need a Code Death.

Until the early 20th century, death was as natural a part of life as birth. It was expected, accepted and filled with ritual. No surprises, no denial, no panic. When its time came, the steps unfolded in a familiar pattern, everyone playing his part. The patients were kept clean and as comfortable as possible until they drew their last breath.

But in this age of technological wizardry, doctors have been taught that they must do everything possible to stave off death. We refuse to wait passively for a last breath, and instead pump air into dying bodies in our own ritual of life-prolongation. Like a midwife slapping life into a newborn baby, doctors now try to punch death out of a dying patient. There is neither acknowledgement of nor preparation for this vital existential moment, which arrives, often unexpected, always unaccepted, in a flurry of panicked activity and distress.

We physicians need to relearn the ancient art of dying. When planned for, death can be a peaceful, even transcendent experience. Just as a midwife devises a birth plan with her patient, one that prepares for the best and accommodates the worst, so we doctors must learn at least something about midwifing death.

For the modern doctor immersed in a culture of default lifesaving, there are two key elements to this skill. The first is acknowledgment that it is time to shift the course of care. The second is primarily technical.

For my three patients on breathing machines, I told their families the sad truth: their loved one had begun to die. There was the usual disbelief. “Can’t you do a surgery to fix it?” they asked. “Haven’t you seen a case like this where there was a miracle?”

I explained that at this point, the brains of their loved ones were so damaged that they would most likely never talk again, never eat again, never again hug or even recognize their families. I described how, if we continued breathing for them, they would almost definitely be dependent on others to wash, bathe and feed them, how their bodies would develop infection after infection, succumbing eventually while still on life support.

I have yet to meet a family that would choose this existence for their loved one. And so, in each case, the decision was made to take out the tubes.

Now comes the technical part. For each of the three dying patients, I prepped my team for a Code Death. I assigned the resident to manage the airway, and the intern to administer whatever medications might be needed to treat shortness of breath. The medical student collected chairs and Kleenex for the family.

I assigned myself the families. Like a Lamaze coach, I explained what death would look like, preparing them for any possible twist or turn of physiology, any potential movements or sounds from the patient, so that there would be no surprises.

Families were asked to wait outside the room while we prepared to remove the breathing tubes. The nurses cleaned the patients’ faces with warm, wet cloths, removing the I.C.U. soot of the previous days. The patients’ hair was smoothed back, their gowns tucked beneath the sheets, and catheters stowed neatly out of sight.

Then, the respiratory therapist cut the ties that secured the breathing tube around the patients’ neck. As soon as the tubes were removed and airways suctioned, families were invited back into the room. The chairs had been pulled up next to the bed for them and we fell back into an inconspicuous outer circle to provide whatever medical support might be needed.

I stood in the back of the room, using hand motions and quietly mouthing one-word instructions to my team as the scene unfolded — another shot of morphine when breathing worsened, a quick insertion of the suction catheter to clear secretions. We worked like the well-oiled machine of any Code Blue team.

Of those three Code Death patients, one died in the I.C.U. within an hour of the breathing tube’s removal. Another lived for several more days in the hospital, symptoms under watch and carefully managed. The third went home on hospice care and died there peacefully the next week, surrounded by family and friends.

I would argue that a well-run Code Death is no less important than a Code Blue. It should become a protocol, aggressive and efficient. We need to teach it, practice it, and certify doctors every two years for it. Because helping patients die takes as much technique and expertise as saving lives.

Complete Article HERE!