Sunday, August 9, 2009

This Sh*t has got to Stop

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that Obama's "Death Panel" could decide to kill babies who, like her son, have Down's Syndrome.  The former governor is an ignorant and loathsome fool who appeals to the worst in American political culture, but sentiments like hers could do real damage to the ability of people to receive end of life care.

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the National Hospice Foundation only about half of the people who are currently eligible to receice hospice care actually get it, and that 10% of families who receive hospice care believe that the care stated to late.
There are some other facts about hospice and palliative care that need to be acknowledged.  People on hospice are still followed by their local doctors and a not a panel of bureaucrats in Washington D.C.  People can still receive various types of chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis, or other types of treatments while on hospice.  People can still be treated for their health concerns while on hospice.  For example, if a person on hospice care with terminal lung cancer slips and falls on an icy sidewalk then they can go to the ER and still have their broken arm treated.  People can voluntarily come off hospice care at any time they choose and people on hospice are routinely checked to see if hospice is the best level of care or if another level of care would be better suited to the meet the person's needs.  Again, making this decision is not a group of government folks from Washington but local doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who work with patients and families to find a way to keep providing the care that best meets the person's needs.

Susan Collins, a Republican Senator from Maine, understands what hospice is about and how so many more people would benefit from receiving hospice care.  So, she inserted the language in the health care bill to ensure that more people are made aware of the benefits of end of life care.  This ignorant demagoguing from the likes of Sarah Palin just makes more people afraid of end of life care and keeps many people who would benefit from hospice from accessing the care hospice provides.  Real people might needlessly suffer because the words and actions of the vile and the foolish.  

This sh*t has got to stop.

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