Euthanasia Not Rare
We are receiving reports from families (in different states
around the country) about hospice physicians and/or staff who
"euthanized" their loved one against the patient's
and families wishes; in other words, these families report that
their loved ones were actually murdered before their time of
natural death actually had arrived. It is well-known that some
physicians order very strong narcotics which cause respiratory
depression and shutdown/death even when pain is not being
experienced by the terminally ill. (See article on
"Questionable Deaths" at: www.hospicepatients.org/questionable-death.html
Some physicians admit that their motivation is euthanasia, in
order to "put the patient out of their misery" or end
their "meaningless" (in the eyes of the physician)
life. Outrageous as it may seem, death is seen by some physicians
as the solution to a terminally ill patient's struggle with
depression, debility or discomfort. (See Journal of the American
Medical Association article cited in "Questionable
Deaths." Euthanasia is the easy way out. Killing the
patient is easier than providing good hospice care!
Medically-Induced Coma is First Step to Euthanasia
Shocking? Of course. True? You bet. We receive complaints all
the time about hospices that refuse to provide required services
to patients and their families. The response of some hospice
staff, when families start inquiring about why their loved one is
not receiving home health aides or has shortness of breath after
walking around, is often, "why don't we just give him
(or her) some more valium (or Ativan, or other sedative) to help
him relax?" The patient in these cases is not anxious, but
needs a home health aide, or needs oxygen; he or she does not
need to be sent into a medically induced coma from which he will
never return at the current level of sedation.
After sedating the patient, the patient is given more
unnecessary sedatives and often given narcotics, and a
medically-induced coma can be achieved from which the patient
never awakens. Even a healthy person given such dosages of
sedatives and narcotics would be comatose! For a terminally ill
patient, if the patient does not have anxiety, restlessness or
agitation, why are they getting sedatives? In many cases, the
answer is that the doctor or nurse is "into"
euthanasia. However, if no unnecessary sedatives or narcotics had
been given, the patient would in many cases have remained fully
alert and lived much longer.
Yes, it is true that some patients are anxious or agitated. In
those cases, a sedative is totally appropriate. And in some cases
of pain, a sedative helps synergistically to act together with
the pain medications to reduce pain. But why are some physicians
and nurses sedating patients who are not actively dying and
basically sending them to their death earlier than the disease
would take them? Hospice is supposed to be about compassionate
care for the dying, not killing them.
Terminally Ill (and their Families)
Actually Lose Their Access to the local Justice System
When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness, they
don't just lose their expectation of a long life, they
sometimes lose the respect and rights to justice that come with
being a "normal, healthy" citizen of the United States.
There is no law that says, "a terminal person will be denied
the rights of ordinary citizens." But, as soon as someone is
pronounced "terminal," in the eyes of some people,
their life has less meaning and less value. For these individuals
(including local prosecutors), a person who has a terminal
illness no longer matters and is not considered worthy of equal
access to the law, equal access to justice and equal protection
by the law enforcement community. It's almost as if some
people think, "they're going to die anyway, so what does
it matter if their rights are violated? what's a few months
or a year, one way or another?"
Physicians Protect Each Other
If a hospice physician euthanizes his patient, who is going to
believe that he murdered the patient? The pat explanation given
for outraged family members' accusations is,
"they're grieving." "It's natural for them
to feel that way." "We forgive them ... they don't
know about hospice." But what if the accusations are true?
Who is going to believe the family then?
Hospices have incredibly strong ties to the local community.
Naturally so. However, these strong ties include political,
economical and personal motivations for those in the community.
Local newspapers get advertising money from the local hospices.
Local hospice doctors are respected members of the professional
community serving a "good cause." Who would dare to
question the integrity or motivation of a hospice physician?
It is important to remember that physicians basically still
function within the "guild" system. That means that
physicians consider other physicians part of their
"brotherhood" which protects all of them collectively
and individually. When a physician messes up, many other
physicians keep quiet. If a physician with integrity speaks out
against the physician community or hospital practices, that
physician can be (and some have been) blackballed and ostracized,
... basically run out of town with their patient referrals dried
How many physicians are willing to testify to the obvious
truth in medical malpractice cases against other physicians in
their own community? Basically none. Doctors have to be brought
in from outside to testify to medical realities and basic truth,
because of the "white wall of silence." Expert
physicians who serve to testify against other physicians need to
get paid large sums for their court appearances, and for good
reason: they may not be able to have a thriving medical practice
after the guild of physicians gets through with them.
When a physician makes a decision to testify against other
doctors, it can be like throwing away his or her career. (The
"white wall of silence" references the white lab coats
doctors wear, just like police officers have the "blue wall
of silence.") It's basically a matter of loyalty to the
local physician community group or guild, over adherence to the
law or loyalty to the public's welfare or rights as patients.
This is not at all to say that all doctors commit euthanasia or
medical malpractice, certainly not. What is clear is that even
excellent doctors will keep quiet when it comes to the
incompetence of other doctors.
Local Prosecutors Often Use Delay Tactics
And Never Investigate Illegal Euthanasia/Murder
What is a family member to do when he or she knows her loved
one was murdered by the hospice physician and nurses? A local
District Attorney will often hesitate to investigate
murders/euthanasias of local hospice patients, because they
believe that the patient would have died anyway, possibly fairly
soon, so why bother investigating? And, they may feel that they
don't want to alienate the local hospice and the doctor.
There are political connections in every community. We believe
that murders of patients should be reported to the local District
Attorneys, but also to the U.S. Attorney in your area and the
FBI. Basically, keep reporting the crime until you find a law
enforcement agency that will listen to you.
Some district attorneys may hesitate to investigate a hospice
murder (euthanasia done involuntarily). They may think that
"everyone supports the local hospice." How could a
district attorney "go after" the hospice? And if
he's wrong, won't he look like he's got "egg on
his face?" The case has to be extremely strong, strong
enough to show criminal intent ... compelling enough for a local
DA to even consider investigating. But even then, most won't
go ahead with a full investigation or any investigation. If they
have any political aspirations of their own, going after a
well-connected doctor and the hospice would likely effectively
ruin any chances for political advancement in the future.
Think about it: we know that murders of terminally ill
patients sometimes occur in hospices, just as they occur in
hospitals. But how many prosecutions of such murders are carried
out? How many doctors convicted? Have you heard or read of any,
even one? There are reasons you haven't heard of any. The
reasons are the political connections hospices and doctors
cultivate in their communities, and the ease with which doctors
and nurses may falsify medical records to create the impression
that "everything was done according to the standards of
care" (when it wasn't). If you believe the medical
record was falsified, and you have evidence to support that, you
need to report that to the investigators at the United States
Attorneys Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Need to File Complaints to Board of Medicine,
Board of Nursing and Find Plaintiffs' Attorney for Legal
One important point to remember though, you will need to send
a detailed complaint to the State Board of Medicine as soon as possible,
because in some cases, the DEA will wait to see the findings of
the State Board of Medicine. You can also file a complaint to the
State Board of
Nursing if a nurse was involved in administering a fatal dose
of narcotic. It is wise to consult a medical malpractice attorney
before filing your complaint to the Board of Medicine and it is
also important to get a medical review by an independent physician.
If you wish to stop the involuntary euthanasias (medical
killings of patients), you will need to get a copy of the medical
record for an independent medical review of your loved one's
case. Your attorney can assist you in that, because most hospices
will fight tooth and nail to never give you the medical records
if something truly terrible happened. If you don't have or
know of a medical malpractice attorney in your area, you can contact your local bar association and ask for a referral to a plaintiffs' only attorney.
It is very important that you try to find an attorney who
files claims as a plaintiffs' attorney to represent you. If
you get an attorney who handles medical malpractice, but
regularly represents the corporations, you may not get the legal
representative you deserve! Hospices have been known to falsify
documentation, delete information, send incomplete records, stall
and many other tactics that infuriate the families of the
victims. A plaintiff's attorney will be able to successfully
overcome the obstacles that hospice corporations routinely throw
in the way of families seeking the truth (and a full, accurate
copy of the medical record).
Taking the step by step approach to achieving justice will
help make it more likely that the truly egregious violations of
standards of care are noted (some you may miss, not being a
physician) and corrected through the government justice
departments and local district attorney's office. Having a
medical malpractice attorney help you will assure that the
complaint to the Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing is
written in such a way that the allegations are not capable of
being misunderstood or brushed aside.
If you have approached the local District Attorney with your
concerns about a loved one who was murdered/euthanized by a
hospice physician or nurse, and did not get any response, you
need to carefully evaluate whether the failure to act is because
there is no case, because the local DA doesn't value the life
of your loved one, or because the DA is protecting the local
hospice and its staff or worried about his own political
aspirations rather than your loved one's rights to
Report the Crime to the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
When political or other considerations cause a local DA to
refuse to perform a reasonable investigation of a murder of a
terminally ill patient (your loved one), and if a narcotic was diverted in order to kill your
loved one (hastening their death), you can report the crime to
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
- Office Of Diversion Control which has the authority to
investigate diversion of narcotics (in many
cases, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and other opioids).
Diversion of a narcotic can occur if a nurse usually has been collecting his or her own "stash" of these narcotic medications and then administers these medications that were not prescribed, or were not prescribed in the extra amounts given, or is "recreationally" taking the drugs his or herself! The DEA takes diversion of narcotic drugs very seriously.
If a narcotic was diverted, it is important to
report to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency - Office of
Diversion Control so that any physician or nurse involved is
stopped from ever diverting narcotic medications, and to
achieve justice for you and your family.
The sooner you report the crime, the better your chances of
getting an investigation. But it is important to make sure that
the medications given were truly inappropriate and unwanted by
your loved one. High doses of narcotics are commonly given to
reduce pain. If there was no pain and high doses of narcotics are
given, what was the rationale for giving them? If you are not
satisfied that there was any reasonable justification to give
high doses of narcotics to your loved one, and if you believe
these high doses of narcotics caused your loved one's death,
you need to speak with federal investigators at the Drug
Enforcement Administration. If they do not listen to you or if
after listening, tell you that they can't take the case, ask
to speak to the supervisor of the investigator you speak with. If
they tell you the same thing, ask for the name of that
person's supervisor, and keep going until you get someone to
listen to you. The Drug Enforcement Adminisistration IS
responsible to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. Misuse of
narcotics to kill someone is a violation of the Controlled
Substances Act. Demand that they investigate!
If you wish you may also contact the U.S. Attorney's office. If the
local DA does not perform any investigation, isn't it obvious
that the local DA has decided not to act and to stall...basically
to "sit on the case." In these situations, stalling
tactics can get the family to give up and simply suffer in
silence. These local prosecutors just hope that you will go away
and forget the whole thing. They don't want to get involved.
You need a federal prosecutor who takes your concerns seriously,
not someone who patronizes you and then does nothing.
If you have difficulty communicating effectively with a
federal prosecutor, you may need to hire (and we emphasize
hire) a private attorney who specializes in criminal law
(not medical malpractice) to advise you regarding what is
a criminal matter: the murder of your loved one. And sad as it
may seem, you may need to retain an attorney who is not
from the same local area of town where the hospice is located.
The decision of who to retain as an attorney is up to you, of
course. But political connections do exist in this arena as
well...being realistic about many communities is wise. Some
hospices are so well connected politically that they have
connections all the way up to the Governor's level.
Simply speaking to an attorney for their free consultation is
not the same as retaining an attorney to represent you. If
you're not getting anywhere, there is no question that you
need legal advice and assistance. If you're unable to pay for
such assistance, there are legal aid societies and your local
legal bar association may be able to help you find an attorney
who may do the work for free (pro bono). If you are able to pay
for an attorney, getting competent legal advice from a specialist
in the area of criminal law is invaluable and could make the
entire difference in the outcome.