Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy

The Killer

July 6, 2004    by Ron Panzer

There is a killer loose in our nation. Bent upon killing again and again, no matter what twists or turns in the road arise, this killer has succeeded in going unrecognized for over three decades. Unbelievable, but true. Slipping away quietly, pretending to be a well-respected part of our society, the killer continues his trade. Striking fear into the hearts of his victims, he silences them before they can even begin to expose his dark agenda.

The TV stations have not reported any of his crimes; they dare not! The radio stations and newspaper editors know all about him, but they too remain mum. Not a word. Pretending that the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" policy is good for society, the media stands shoulder-to-shoulder in agreement: THIS killer will NOT be discussed.

More than that, the media raises money for the agencies that sponsor this killer: the hospitals, the nursing homes and especially the "angelic" hospice. How could the media expose the dark deeds of the beneficiaries of its own fundraising campaigns? It can't, and the killer knows that.

Elderly women, often confined to their wheelchair or bed, cry out in sheer terror when the killer enters their room and reveals his plan, as he always eventually does. He must. Doors are closed. Music is turned on loudly. Their cries are muffled. He sometimes even uses pillows held over their mouths to stifle their urgent pleas for help.

As the elderly lie there dying, he smiles. He confidently believes in his mission: to end the lives of those he "knows" are better off dead. He "knows" that his victims would prefer to be dead since he knows that he would not wish to live under the same circumstances. He knows that he is doing his part for the greater good. He knows that society is better off without them. And he believes he is just doing his victims a favor. In fact, he would be offended if anyone suggested they were "victims." He is "helping" them, "aiding" them in dying, not "killing." How dare anyone suggest that he has "killed" anyone!

Yet that is exactly the charge being leveled. He has killed and killed, so many times that realistically there may be many thousands of his victims. How could such a large number of killings go undetected and not be connected with each other? The killer makes sure to kill only one at a time, in a separate location, so as not to atract any attention. Because this killer is a health care worker, he makes sure to falsify the chart, the medical record, in order to cover his tracks. He is not dumb. He knows that the legal record, the record of events, the record that matters, is whatever he puts down in the chart, so he justifies medically, whatever it is that he has done.

Any family member who objects is no concern. He simply accuses them of being "out of control," a "threat to the patient and staff," or a "troublemaker." Social workers quickly step in advising the family member to not visit at this time. If they object, the courts quickly issue restraint orders prohibiting the family member who cares from even visiting. They are absolutely banned from visiting their own loved one. It doesn't matter if it is a husband, wife, child, mother or father. Banned.

If they happen to have a power of attorney for health care, a way is found to make it null and void. Not a problem! The killer finds the family member who agrees with the plan. They are welcomed with open arms. The killer and the co-conspiring family member get along famously. They are the ones immediately granted a new power of attorney for health care. Even if the patient has dementia, has not signed any document for ten years and can't even hold a pen, they will put the pen in her hand, move the hand and claim that a "new" power of attorney was made out and is, of course, completely valid, and witnessed by several individuals who can attest to its authenticity. The killer has the family problem "covered."

No friendly family members who agree with the plan? Simple! The social worker steps in. All that is needed is a request for a court-appointed guardian to make sure that the patient gets "everything" and "the best" that health care has to offer. The new guardian makes sure the killer is accorded every benefit of the doubt, while simultaneously plundering the assets of the patient so nothing at all is left for the family. Kickbacks are even paid by the guardian, using the patient's money of course, to the judge and others who are involved in the scam. And it goes on and on for years. Raking in the dough while families are helpless to stand against the power of the court.

He is like James Bond: he has a "license to kill!" And nobody is going to take that license away from him. He moves often, not from nation to nation like Bond, but from job to job, hospital to hospital, nursing home to nursing home, hospice to hospice. Never staying long enough to show the pattern. He even moves state to state if needed. He doesn't want to attract too much attention. But his good work does attract the attention of some of the most senior administrators at work.

They call him in to the office for private interviews. He is encouraged to continue his special work, to find ever more creative almost undetectable ways of ending the lives of his patients: some of them almost unimaginable. Definitely unthinkable. And who is going to look anyway? Just about every prosecutor wouldn't waste a dime on investigating the murder of an elderly person: they're just going to die anyway. Who cares? Why bother?

Inspectors? Any inspector who reads the chart "knows" that everything the killer did was absolutely appropriate and within the standards of care. How could it be otherwise? The killer is not dumb. He makes sure to write what an inspector would want to read. Using the "defensive charting" taught in school, he avoids any unnecessary scrutiny and continues to ply his trade. The public does not suspect him. Nobody really knows him. Even the patients don't know at first. He's good with patients. And some of them even like him.

The state inspectors? No problem. They are paid not to find anything significant and he knows that. Any inspector who dared to objectively inspect an agency would be fired immediately! He knows that the health care agencies and corporations regularly donate to the elected officials, the Governor and legislators to make sure that only industry-friendly "inspectors" are hired to make the rounds. They are paid to give the impression that they are enforcing the regulations which protect patients. And everyone knows, ... well, everyone like himself knows, that it is only a charade. The businesses give protection money to the politicians who appoint the inspectors, and the inspectors pay the industry back with protection; the industry gets what it paid for. No serious violations are ever found, unless the agency was stupid enough not to donate to the Governor and the Legislators. Isn't it clear?

Even the laws that are passed are industry friendly, making it almost impossible for any person to really interfere with the business interests of the health care corporation. Most people wouldn't even dare to try to sue a health care agency. Of those who do think of it, only a few are serious, and of those few, only one here or there ever get an attorney to file suit ... especially when the patient was elderly. Why bother suing? They were going to die anyway and they're, ... right! "better off dead."

The police? They have more important killings to investigate. Gun killings. That's real police work. Killing with drugs? That's only important if it's an illegal drug, unprescribed. Police will not dare step into the realm of medical practice when it comes to killings of the elderly. How could they? Be accused of looking over the shoulder of a doctor, the protected class, the guild that protects its own.

Mr. prosecutor has other cases, more important cases to focus on. And he knows that with every death of an elderly person comes a reduction in the expenses the government pays out for their care. It's a win-win situation. The state saves. The federal government saves. The private agency makes more profit, and the patient no longer has to "suffer" the indignity of even being alive. What a horrible thing: to be alive, like that! This killer? He's doing the society a favor Mr. prosecutor thinks.

The judges? ... if the killer ever got caught, the cover story he will tell is well-rehearsed. "It was a 'mercy killing' done to relieve suffering." The judges who decide his fate, should it ever go so far? Well, of course! In the administrative law courts, they're appointed by the Governor that the industry donated to, so we can be sure they are industry friendly. Those who are elected? They're put forward by the party, the ol' boy network, the Dems or the Repubs. And don't think for a minute that if you are NOT a party boy (or gal) that you have a chance in hell of getting party-endorsement, let alone elected!

Those judges will be sure to do what is best for their own continued role as a judge. They make sure to find a reason not to "throw the book" at anyone doing the work of "policy." And policy is supreme! Policy is to save the budget by eliminating the people, er, expenses.

The killer? He has no doubts. He has no questions. His mission is approved and crystal clear! His superiors are pleased with his work, and give him everything he needs to accomplish his task. Bonuses, respect and power. They trust his judgment. They call him the "closer." And that's what he does. He closes the book of someone's life. He ends it. He does it because he wants to. He does it because he can. He enjoys the thrill of almost getting caught, but not really getting caught. He is quite creative in making sure his victims end up dead. Whatever he does, they do die, that's certain.

The killer? He is efficient. He is successful. He is pleased with himself. He serves society. He is making a difference. He is well-paid. He is a killer. Only he calls himself a nurse, a doctor, a respiratory therapist. Respected, important. He goes about his work. Proud to be a health care "professional!"

Are you afraid? Are you concerned? Does it really matter to you?


Note: Hospice Patients Alliance is working to have the killer stopped and arrested. ?We hope you will support our work!

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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