Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT:
Ron Panzer, President
Hospice Patients Alliance, Inc.
http://www.hospicepatients.org

(616) 866-9127



Hospice Patients Alliance Blasts Hospice Agencies
That Terrorize the Chronically Disabled



by Ron Panzer, President HPA

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - October 15, 2002 - Terri Schiavo picture of Terri Schiavo currently is being held in a Pinellas County Florida hospice that is not licensed to provide care for the chronically ill. Terri Schiavo is a non-terminal disabled patient with brain damage. Terri's own treating physician, Dr. Vincent Gambone, testified before the court,saying "her condition is one that there is no recovery. The damage that is done to the brain is not repairable."1 However, the chronically disabled are by definition not going to recover completely. These are not terminal patients, and the disabled can live many years so long as they are not intentionally killed.

Terrorizing the Disabled in America

The practice of enrolling chronically disabled patients into hospice endangers all disabled citizens of the United States and directly violates their Constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The disabled are not so much afraid of getting anthrax or being shot; they are afraid that society will toss them away like a used tissue and kill them. The disabled are terrorized by those holier-than-thou self-proclaimed bioethicists who have no morality and no sense of humanity and proclaim, like Adolf Hitler, that the disabled are "better off dead."

Adolf Hitler summarily executed the mentally ill and developmentally disabled "for the greater good of society." The utilitarian philosophy which promotes the killing of patients in order to save health care resources for others has plunged the US health care system to a depth which calls for shame and disgust. If hospice is to become a killing center for the disabled, then hospice agencies that do so are no different from the gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

Adolf Hitler had his program of euthanasia going on throughout World War II. He relished the opportunity that wartime gave him to carry out his agenda to kill the disabled:

Wartime, Adolf Hitler suggested, "was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill." Many Germans did not want to be reminded of individuals who did not measure up to their concept of a "master race." The physically and mentally handicapped were viewed as "useless" to society, a threat to Aryan genetic purity, and, ultimately, unworthy of life. At the beginning of World War II, individuals who were mentally retarded, physically handicapped, or mentally ill were targeted for murder in what the Nazis called the "T-4," or "euthanasia," program.

The "euthanasia" program required the cooperation of many German doctors, who reviewed the medical files of patients in institutions to determine which handicapped or mentally ill individuals should be killed. The doctors also supervised the actual killings. 2

Terri Schiavo would have been summarily executed by Hitler's agents of death. Anyone who harms her, by removing her feedings and causing her to become dehydated, is killing her just as if they shot her with a bullet, just as if they were part of Adolf Hitler's Nazi death squads.

Hospice that enrolls Non-Terminal Patients Commits Fraud

The United States Office of Inspector General has issued its warning to the public about questionable hospice agency practices and stated that some hospices have been found to engage in, "practices which ... have inappropriately maximized their Medicare reimbursements at beneficiary expense. These practices include: Making incorrect determinations of a personís life expectancy for purposes of meeting hospice eligibility criteria."3 A hospice that bills Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurer for a non-terminal patient is violating the contracts which allow hospices to provide services for the terminally ill.

Hospices are not licensed to care for the chronically ill. In order for a patient to be admitted to hospice, the physician must "certify" that the patient is likely to die within six months due to a terminal illness. Terri Schiavo has no terminal illness; the only cause of death in her case would be her intentional murder by those intent on ending her life.

Original Hospice Mission Violated

The original hospice mission is to care for, support and manage the symptoms of the terminally ill until a death occurs in its own natural timing. Every hospice nurse and physician knows that hospice is supposed to neither hasten death nor seek to cure the terminal illness. Hastening the death of a patient goes against everything hospice stands for.

Although Terri Schiavo's case will be decided in a Pinellas County courthouse, any hospice that accepts a chronically ill patient has violated not only the spirit of hospice and the mission of hospice, but the federal regulations governing hospice4

Hospice Organization Remains Silent on Euthanasia Case

It is mind-boggling that the national organizations promoting hospice in this country have remained silent about Terri Schiavo's case, the stream of intentional killings in hospices across our nation and the killings going on in Oregon. Anyone who is informed about the killings in Oregon know that the state of Oregon is NOT reporting the full truth about the cases and that there are cases which are not even recorded by the state.

Hospice lobbying groups like the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the state hospice associations need to act immediately to preserve the hospice mission before hospice practice descends into the gutter and hospice becomes synonymous with "house-of-murder." It is common knowledge among the public that some hospices routinely kill their patients with overdosages of morphine and sedatives before the patient dies a natural death from the terminal illness.

These national groups need to take a stand for morality, ethics and compassion. They loudly proclaim that hospice is "compassion and caring for the dying," but killing the disabled is the furthest thing from "compassionate" or "caring." They do nothing when non-terminal patients are threatened by those who wish to kill them in a hospice. Hospice staff throughout the nation eagerly learn how to terminally sedate patients and then end patient's lives (through dehydration and circulatory collapse) when they have no medical need for sedation.5 Many physicians are more than willing to end the lives of their patients. (See 6, and 7. And approximately 50 per cent of physicians in our nation approve of physician-assisted suicide8!)

In many so-called physician-assisted suicide cases, the patient cannot take the medication themselves, so the patient is actually euthanized, i.e., killed outright by the physician or nurse. That is the reality! Let's get real here! If you or your loved one are disabled, you will need to beware of your physician's attitudes about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Terri Schiavo's case has gained national attention, but it is far from unique!

The hospice industry as a whole, each hospice agency, the physicians, nurses and the courts need to remember that the United States is a nation founded with the belief that all are created equal. "Equal" in this sense means that each citizen deserves equal rights under the law. Executing the disabled, such as Terri Schiavo, is the violation of all the rights guaranteed to the disabled Terri Schiavo, as an American citizen; it is a violation of everything America stands for. Hospice is about allowing a natural death in its own time, not hastening the death of a patient who is not terminal and responds to family. If euthanasia is allowed into hospice, then the wonderful service we know as hospice will cease to exist. If the courts allow the killing of Terri Schiavo, we will have already slid down the slippery slope. God help our nation if we do!




  1. See the BayNews9.com story: Final chapter of Terri Schiavo case is underway

  2. See Nazi Murder of the Handicapped

  3. See Office of Inspector General Publication of the Medicare Advisory Bulletin on Hospice Benefits ; Federal Register / Vol. 60, No. 212 / Thursday, November 2, 1995 / Notices

  4. See 42 Code of Federal Regulations ch iv, part 418

  5. See Terminal Sedation

  6. Research indicating euthanasia is more widespread than commonly thought and that some euthanasias are clearly done without patient knowledge or permission:

  7. JAMA at http://jama.ama-assn.org 1998 and search from the JAMA site for the following article: Aug 12;280(6):507-13 entitled "The practice of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the United States: adherence to proposed safeguards and effects on physicians." written by Emanuel EJ, Daniels ER, Fairclough DL, Clarridge BR done at the Center for Outcomes and Policy Research, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Control, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass 02115, USA.]

  8. Archives of Internal Medicine - AMA at http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/1/63?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=1&author1=Willems&title=Attitudes+and+Practices+Concerning+the+End+of+Life&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&volume=160&fdate=1/1/2000&tdate=4/30/2001&resourcetype=HWCIT Vol. 160 No. 1, January 10, 2000, "Attitudes and Practices Concerning the End of Life - A Comparison Between Physicians From the United States and From the Netherlands" (by Dick L. Willems, MD, PhD; Elisabeth R. Daniels; Gerrit van der Wal, PhD; Paul J. van der Maas, PhD; Ezekiel J. Emanuel, PhD)

  9. See Survey of Physician Ethics Medical Economics Archive: Oct. 11, 2002

The Hospice Patients Alliance, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity acting to preserve the original hospice mission, promoting quality end-of-life services and offers free information and assistance to hospice patients, families and caregivers nationwide. For more information, visit Hospice Patients Alliance online or call [616] 866-9127.




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For more information about Terri Schiavo and her family's fight to save her life,
see The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation.




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