by Althea Clark-Harris-Stowe State University Student
Healthcare Law and Ethics
July 18, 2010
This paper will attempt to illustrate assisted and physician suicide and the effects it brings on the patient, physicians, and providers and last the family members. I will conclude my paper with the laws related to assisted and physician suicide and my opinion on both assisted and physician assisted suicide. Kate Cheney, 85, had terminal cancer and told her doctor she wanted assisted suicide. However, he was concerned that she didn't meet the required criteria for mental competence because of dementia. So he declined to write the requested prescription and instead referred her to a psychiatrist as required by law. She was accompanied to the psychiatric consultation by her daughter. The psychiatrist found that Kate had a loss of short-term memory. It also appeared that her daughter had more interest in Cheney's assisted suicide than did the patient herself. The psychiatrist wrote in his report that while the assisted suicide seemed consistent with Kate's values, 'she does not seem to be explicitly pushing for this." He also determined that Kate did not have the "very high capacity required to weigh options about assisted suicide," and he declined to authorize the lethal prescription. Kate seemed to accept the psychiatrist's verdict, but her daughter did not. Her daughter viewed the guidelines protecting her mother's life as obstacles, and in a press interview called the guidelines a "roadblock" to Kate's right to die and demanded that Kate's HMO, Kaiser Permanente, provide a second opinion. This was provided by a clinical psychologist (rather than an MD-psychiatrist) who also found Kate had memory problems. The psychologist also worried about familial pressure, writing that Kate's decision to die "may be influenced by her family's wishes." Still, despite these reservations, the psychologist determined that Kate...