ASSISTED SUICIDE: Focus on Palliative Care, Survey Says
Just days before Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be tried for murder in Michigan, a survey released yesterday shows that "[b]y more than a 2-1 ratio," Americans feel the nation should focus on pain relief for the dying rather than legalizing assisted suicide. The Last Acts campaign, a coalition of 315 health care groups including the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society, surveyed 1,000 Americans and found that half said dying patients are not always kept free of pain. Moreover, 80% said the medical system "does only a fair-to-poor job of making sure that patients don't face overwhelming financial problems" (Fackelmann, USA Today, 3/18). Among the problems cited by the survey: Medicare often does not cover hospice care for patients with Alzheimer's and congestive heart failure, not enough Americans make living wills, and when they do, too many health care workers ignore them. "Dying is hard, but it need not be horrible," said Dr. Ira Byock, a former president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (Anstett, Detroit Free Press, 3/18). Click here to read more about Last Acts.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.