Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy

Making a Difference in This World: End-of-Life Activism

06/30/04    by Ron Panzer

We are involved in one of the greatest civil rights struggles in our time. It is not about one ethnic group's rights or women's rights. It is about the rights of vulnerable people of all nationalities and ethnicities, whether men or women, within health care. The health care industry has been overtaken by a utilitarian philosophy that devalues the lives of those who are seriously disabled, chronically ill or elderly. The economic pressures bearing down upon our government, both state and federal, causes the government (those empowered to protect and serve the public) to turn a decidedly "blind eye" toward the vulnerable who languish in health care facilities without recourse and without justice.

Constitutional rights of the vulnerable in health care are completely ignored on a routine basis and complaints about these violations of rights are not sent to district or circuit courts, but diverted to administrative law courts run by corrupt judges put there as political payola and to make sure no serious efforts at enforcing the standards of care are ever implemented. Kangaroo courts strip the rights of the vulnerable away while urgent pleas for help die with those who are abused.

What used to be routine health care is now often being denied to patients whose lives are considered worthless. Interventions which are designed to hasten death are commonly used to do so. Hard to believe? Hardly! Antibiotics for infections are denied to patients with infections (with the intention that the patient die of overwhelming infection). Some go so far as to purposely use "dirty" technique in order to cause infection, when good practice would require clean or even sterile technique for various procedures. Potassium is being given without clinical need in order to cause cardiac arrhythmias and death.

Opioids may be given at dosages 10 to 20 times what would be necessary or indicated (often by increasing how often the dose is given) in order to make sure a patient dies. Giving morphine every 30 minutes results in an eight-fold increase of dosage compared to the one dose every four hours that would be needed. Patients with no pain or well-controlled pain have opioids given in increasingly high dosages, without any clinical indication or need. Patients whose breathing difficulty would normally require them to be kept sitting upright are laid down flat with the knowledge that they will experience respiratory difficulty. Patients who might benefit from oxygen are denied oxygen. Patients who are dependent for feeding are denied food and water; while trays of food may be brought to them, staff are purposely kept so busy that they do not have time to feed the patients. On the other hand, patients on tube feedings are simply starved to death outright by stopping the feedings (with court order or not).

Any family member that objects is labeled "uncompassionate." If they continue to object to the agenda, they are labeled "troublemakers," lies are told about them, lies are charted in the medical record about them, and the caring family member is banned from visiting the victim completely or until the patient is already so compromised that death is absolutely certain. Guilt trips are foisted onto observant, caring friends or family. Lies are told about the need for sedatives or opioids. Trusting individuals are betrayed and patients' lives are ended prematurely. An evil and dark trend is viewed as routine. Those who worry about our nation sliding down the "slippery slope" are completely naive; our society has already slipped down those slopes. Euthanasia is practiced in every state of the USA even though it is illegal in every state. How? Through many means such as those described above, disguised as "terminal sedation" or palliative care, yet intended to cause death, not comfort and certainly not intended to allow a death in its own natural timing.

Hospice used to be clearly an attempt to palliate the symptoms of those were dying of a terminal illness while being sure not to hasten death. Now hastening death is common and nurses who question the practice are ostracized. And while these practices do not occur in all hospices or hospitals or nursing homes, they occur often enough that the complaints from the public keep pouring into patient advocacy centers and into government regulatory agencies.

Although we must file complaints to the government agencies as described in this the Hospice Patients Alliance website, government agencies often do nothing, choosing to cover up blatant, egregious violations of the standards of care and give findings that the government agency was "unable to substantiate the complaint" based upon the medical records. No matter that the medical records of rogue hospices (or rogue health care professionals) are routinely falsified and therefore, the "legal" record is part of a conspiracy to cover up the truth, cover up a murder or violation of one standard or another.

While some complain that there is nobody around them that is willing to go public with these observations, we cannot remain silent! We must speak out, otherwise we run the risk of silently standing idly by while a new Holocaust against the vulnerable sweeps our society into a Nazi-like evil death machine.

We cannot be controlled by those who choose to sit back and do nothing!

Those who realize what is happening have to go out, picket the local county prosecutors who refuse to bring criminal charges against those who obviously murdered a patient. Let them know you will publicize their unwillingness to protect the weakest and most vulnerable of our society. Speak out, even if you are the only one to do so; call talk radio, write letters to the editor, send letters to everyone you know and explain what happened to you personally and your family.

When YOU act, you will be surprised that others will come up to you and confirm that they have also had such experiences and the movement will grow. And YES, this is a movement. It is the greatest civil rights struggle in our time and is an effort to prevent a Nazi-style era of euthanasia centers where people are hauled off and killed, just like the gas chambers. Only this time it will be to misuse health care and hospice to do so, and that is not what health care is all about.

Start where you are, and act! Like ripples in a pool, your action, your voice will be go out and be heard by some and others will add to it. You must hear the cries of your loved one for justice. Hear the cries of those who are yet to be victimized and for their sake act. Call talk radio stations and speak concisely, calmly and get the basic, brief message out.

If others in your area are concerned, form a group to meet and discuss what can be done. This is grassroots activism at its best. Support organizations that are working for the same causes and get the word out in every letter, every email you send, that we must act now to stop the killings!

Picket the prosecutor who refuses to file criminal charges and name him by name on your signs, saying "Joe (name of prosecutor) refuses to file criminal charges against those who murdered my _____" Keep on and never give up. But do not remain silent. Never yield to those who refuse to act.

What you do, however small, truly matters!

-     Ron Panzer

"What I do you cannot do;
but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great,
and none of us, including me,
ever do great things.
But we can all do small things,
with great love, and together
we can do something wonderful."

                   -          Mother Teresa


The Hospice Patients Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable patient advocacy organization acting to preserve the original hospice mission and to promote quality end-of-life services.



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