Skip to comments.Hospice Horror Stories: Health Care System Often Hastens Death, According To The Fiscal Bottom Line
Posted on 10/24/2010 10:46:30 AM PDT by Daniel T. Zanoza
Hospice Care Horror Stories: Anecdotal Accounts Of How America's Health Care System Often Hastens Death, According To the Fiscal Bottom Line
Sarah Palin's Warnings About Death Panels Way Behind The Curve / Some Health Care Providers Are Literal Purveyors of Death
Note from Daniel T. Zanoza, Founder & Executive Director, RFFM.org:
Approximately two years ago, I became aware of other right to life concerns, including what is taking place in America's health care system regarding end of life issues. I wrote a story for the Illinois Family Institute, titled "Hospice, Living Wills, Futile Care: Hospice, Hospitals & Nursing Homes Have License To Kill" which was posted on October 5th, 2010 http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=35036.
I also submitted my column to Canada Free Press (CFP), an influential Internet blog for which I am a frequent contributor. My column is posted on CFP at this link: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/28481
My piece related the story of how the culture of death has permeated America's health care system. The death panels former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin warned us about regarding what was included in President Barack Obama's health care reform law have actually been in place and are entrenched in the delivery of health care services for the elderly and all Americans whose health care may now be dependent on solely economic issues. I wrote about how some hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care providers now hasten death for those who may be a drain on the fiscal bottom line.
However, in my story I made it clear that not all health care facilities are bad.
The purpose of the column was to inform the public of the dangers in a system which is quickly evolving into death factories where patients become victims, along with their loved ones, who are left with guilt and remorse.
In 20 years of writing articles and columns, I have learned the most effective means to communicate and educate the public is by sharing personal experiences...whether mine or others. Thankfully, there were those who responded to the above mentioned column and were willing to make their very personal and often tragic experiences public regarding the treatment of their loved ones by a medical system they trusted.
The comments below are not from people with an agenda. Indeed, it had to be very hard for them to relive and relate their experiences. Some of these stories literally brought me to tears. However, I'll let their words speak for themselves.
The following comment is from Christina Bowen and is included in my column titled Hospice, Living Wills, Futile Care: Hospice, Hospitals & Nursing Homes Have License To Kill.
I honestly believe with all my heart that if Hospice had not been in charge of my mother's care, that she would still be alive today. My mom was 70 years old and had cancer. We are well aware that this is a terminal disease, yet she was no where near the end of her life.
My mom had bone cancer in both of her upper legs. She was in a wheel chair so it was hard for her to travel. She was also on bottled oxygen. After several months of consideration she decided not to take any more chemotherapy or radiation. The only thing she needed was something to control her pain, because the cancer was not going to go away. On September the first, I took her to see her oncologist for the last time. They decided together that Hospice could provide her with the care she needed from here on out. On that day my mom was of sound mind and doing well. We left the doctor's office and went out to dinner together.
The next day the Hospice nurses came to the house for an evaluation. They took control over all of mom's medications and instructed us not to call 911 in case of an emergency. Everything from here on out was to be determined by the Hospice physician. They immediately increased her fentynol patch from 50mcg to 100mcg. They increased her oral pain medicine from 30mg of oxycodone to 100-120mg oxycodone per day.
The changes started immediately. At first she seemed to be "high". She was sleepier than normal, kind of nodding out all the time. Started being confused, loss of appetite, and had trouble swallowing. We called the Hospice nurses and reported the side effects. My sister and I were convinced that she was receiving too much pain medicine and that she might even overdose from it. They insisted that it was just a part of the final stages of life. Even though no one ever came to the house to check her out.
As time went by the side effects worsened. She started having trouble breathing, sweating, and even hallucinations. She finally went into a coma. We were on the phone with Hospice constantly trying to seek help for our mom. We knew that she was being overdosed, but again was told that it was a normal part of the death cycle.
On Sept. the 8th Hospice finally showed up at the house. Mom was in a coma and unable to take her medicines. They insisted that she was just in her final stages of life and the morphine had nothing to do with what we were seeing. They said she must continue to take her morphine, so they went to the pharmacy and ordered a liquid form to be administered. She died later that evening.
I know cancer kills people. I know that my mom was going to eventually lose her battle and die, too. But I also know that she was not there yet. She was just in pain, she wasn't dying. So in a time span of 5-6 days, our mom went from being an independent, strong willed woman, to a child like infant, and then finally just gone.
I blame myself for allowing this to happen. Looking back I know I could have done something to have prevented this. I should have followed my instincts and removed the patch, stopped the oral drugs, and took her to the hospital against their instructions. But I didn't. I let them kill my mom.
So, for anyone reading this, I beg you to please, please, think long and hard about signing a loved one up for Hospice. And make sure that you are ready to say goodbye when you do.
Comments to Canada Free Press
We had an experience that ended somewhat differently. My mother fell and was sent to a hospital. While I wasn't there, she was released to a care center, (we still don't understand how that happened). Without our knowledge she was placed on many drugs. We watched her decline rapidly while each day she demanded she be allowed to go home. During this time she developed partial paralysis on one side leading us to conclude she had a stroke. This was not diagnosed by the doctors.
We were finally able to box them in. Some years before, she had, in writing through her lawyer, made me responsible for her care if she were ever unable to make her own decisions. In a meeting with management, we made the point that she wanted to go home. If she was competent to make that decision, they should obey her demand and release her. If she wasn't competent, I had the legal responsibility to decide her care and my decision was to let her go home. They argued for over an hour why she needed to stay and I had to threaten legal action before they finally gave in.
She has been home now for years and caring for her is a struggle, but we believe the alternative results would have been obvious and rapid. She stopped all drugs after coming home and gradually got better. She will never be the same but now she makes her own decisions on what care she will accept, (even in her nineties, she has a powerful will). We know we have her for a limited time but we chose the will of the "patient" and life over the "experts". As Christians, how could we have chosen any other path? Posted by rt on 10/07 at 09:00 PM
We, as a nation, have been gradually indoctrinated with the various concepts that lead to death. Whether it is with abortion or end of life issues - cost vs. benefit, we are being led down a road that has no light at the end. There are proponents of ridding society of individuals who do not carry their own weight and contribute to society to a level that makes them worth keeping.
We have a right to "life". It is a gift from God. When we accept that the determination as to when our life should end should be made by someone else, we give into whatever their agenda might be. Posted by Mike Foil on 10/07 at 07:39 PM
My heart goes out to Ms. Bowen. Something similar happened to my father. He had prostate cancer which had spread to his bones. After being fried from the radiation etc., he too was in pain, but still quite lucid. He was always a strong man physically and mentally with a heart of gold. I watched hospice turn this wonderful, witty, beautiful man into a vegetable in a matter of days. He became combative and hallucinated and after a short time his personality was unrecognizable. The father we had loved was no more. We took him to the hospital and he died a few hours later. I remember something my father said to us when he opened the box of drugs hospice gave us with the Oxycodone, etc. in it, "like opening Pandora's box huh?" How right he was! I too felt there was something I should or shouldn't have done, that it was my fault. I realize that God has the final say and we can only do the best we can with what there is to work with. If we were all doctors, we might stand a better chance of saving our families and make sure that the utmost will be done for them. Ms. Bowen, like many of us, relied on the medical profession to help her mother. How very scary things are becoming, huh! Thank you for this article and the information! Posted by j on 10/07 at 03:32 PM
Has anyone noticed the number of times people are blaming the baby boomers for our current situation? Could this be deliberate, so that when the time comes, our children and grandchildren will feel no guilt as we are dumped in the nearest home and forgotten? They are no longer taught to respect the elderly, they are taught the elderly are stealing from them and destroying their future. Could it be the baby boomers were cheated and lied to? Are they to be held responsible when they paid into Social Security their entire working lives, only to have it looted by a crooked Congress? Yes, the boomers were conned. Yes, they made the mistake of working hard so their children wouldn't have to. They were horribly scammed by a Ponzi or Madoff government.
The end goal is to make the youth despise boomers. Until this changes and the children of this nation are taught to love and respect their elders, the sick and disabled and to realize they were fooled, just like everyone else, there is no hope for change. Life is no longer a gift, it has become a cost ratio and a burden. Posted by PJPony on 10/07 at 07:29 AM
I worked in the healthcare field for over 35 years and know for a fact that this goes on with hospice. I have seen it over and over again. But, I do know there are families who grow tired of caring for sick elderly parents and just wants the end to come . I also know from personal experience that I would not except any part of hospice care. My husband was real sick 4 years ago and went from 190 pounds to 125 pounds in a few months while in the hospital. When the time came for his discharge they wanted him placed in a nursing home under hospice care. I told them no. The doctor got mad and hung up the phone on me. To make a long story short my husband is doing great now. Has gained weight and is able to care for himself. He has enjoyed 4 years of life that he would not have had if I had placed him under hospice care. Posted by Norma Hughes on 10/07 at 06:50 AM
Some Hospice Care Providers Enforcing State-Sanctioned Euthanasia Through Illinois Probate Courts by Daniel T. Zanoza posted on August 13, 2010 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2010/08/some-hospice-care-providers-enforcing-state-sanctioned-euthanasia-through-probate-courts.html
The following series of columns related to end of life issues were posted on RFFM.org in 2008 and written by:
Bill Beckman, Executive Director, Illinois Right to Life Committee: http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org
Stephen Bloom, a Christian Attorney at Law and an expert on living wills http://www.istherealawyerinthechurch.com/ and
Daniel Zanoza, Executive Director, RFFM.org
Part I The Myth Of Living Wills: You Are Actually Signing Your Life Away by Bill Beckman posted August 11, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/the-myth-of-living-wills.html
Part II How a Living Will can bring about your premature death by Bill Beckman posted on August 12, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/how-a-living-will-can-bring-about-your-premature-death.html
Part III Futile Care--Knowing What It Is May Save Your Life Or The Life Of A Loved One by Bill Beckman posted August 13, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/part-iii-futile-care--knowing-what-it-is-may-save-your-life-or-the-life-of-a-loved-one.html
Part IV Research on "brain dead" and "almost dead" patients declared "ethical" by Bill Beckman posted August 14, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/part-iv-research-on-brain-dead-and-almost-dead-patients-declared-ethical.html
Part V Choose Hospice Care Provider Carefully: Using Hospice Care To Hasten Death Declared "Ethical" by Bill Beckman posted August 15, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/part-v-choose-hospice-care-provider-carefully-using-hospice-care-to-hasten-death-declared-ethical.html
Part VI Some Hospice Care Providers Hasten Death Through Use Of Morphine Overdoses + Other Means? by Bill Beckman posted on August 16, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/part-vi-some-hospice-care-providers-hasten-death.html
Part VII Culture Of Death Taking Toll On Those Nearing Life's End: Overview -- by Daniel T. Zanoza posted on August 17, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/part-vii-culture-of-death-taking-toll-on-those-nearing-lifes-end.html
"Living Will" Becomes a License to Kill: The Horror Goes On In 2008 by Bill Beckman posted on August 18, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/living-will-becomes-a-license-to-kill.html
Living Wills: Signing Your Own Death Warrant? A Christian Lawyers Perspective by Stephen Bloom posted on August 19, 2008 at http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2008/08/living-wills-signing-your-own-death-warrant-a-christian-lawyers-perspective.html
A hospice nurse was determined that my mom “go out” on her shift. She could have done it legally the way the script was written. Only because the nurse going off shift alerted us (and the VNA person in charge of sending MORE meds to the house thought it was unnecessary) was this woman stopped and removed from the home. Mom left this earth at God’s calling the next morning.
We filed a formal complaint - but it is peer review - and the script saved her license.
There are many horror stories out there - it will only get worse!
Now, in the US, we have hospices. In theory, a hospice is for someone who is at death's door. The hospital has done what it can, and there is no longer any real point to being in the ICU. Perhaps it's best to go home, be with family, and just pass on. In our modern society, that's about the most "natural" way anyone can die.
However, there is the matter of pain management. No one wants to see a loved one in pain, so when the hospice people start the morphine drip, it just seems like a kindness. What could be wrong?
Well, in my experience, hospice ends up amounting to assisted suicide. The morphine drip is increased day by day until it affects the breathing, and the patient dies. It almost seems like policy.
Maybe, if the patient really is going anyway, then this is a painless way to go. But I have a hard time with it. I think the medical establishment really is killing people in America.
The woman writing the first complaining paragraph would rather her mother live in excruciating bone cancer pain, than live pain-free in her final days.
People are born. People live. People die. Accept it.
So she was not a lucid as the daughter wanted her to be. She was pain free. Does this woman respect the concept of quality of life?
I have interviewed a number of family members who objected to hospice care. In every case, they were the sons and daughters who had ignored their parents and grandparents most of their adult life, but then objected when that parent exercised their freedom to die pain free.
Let me tell you something that I know about first hand.When your spouse is laying in bed gasping for air like a fish out of water, and a drip of morphine calms their breathing to where they die peacfuly instead of a violent gasp, then come back and talk to me about it. In todays medical world we can virtualy keep a body alive with machines to the point where the body itself is doing very little to stay alive.Hospitals are required to administer any and all life saving procedures unless the patient or gaurdian has signed a DNR, at that point the body is left to die on it’s own naturaly and if a simple drip of morphine makes it a peaceful departure instead of a violent one, tell me why shouldn’t it be used.
My mother had surgery when she was 84. During surgery, she had a major stroke and could no longer get around on her own. We put her in a nursing home for recovery. The nursing home, eventually, suggested that we move her into the regular nursing part of the home where they wanted her to stay. My mother couldn’t get around on her own but was mentally sharp. She wouldn’t say anything but I could tell that she hated the idea. We eventually moved her into a families home where she could be with her grand daughter, greatgrand son and great, greatgrand son.
The nursing home didn’t like this idea and the nursing home doctor said that she couldn’t be moved. I told them I wanted a second opinion and they changed their minds. My mother lasted another two years before she passed on, but was totally happy. In the nursing home, my mother knew that she would be lonely and alone. We didn’t want that.
It’s not easy taking care of someone like this but we figured that it wasn’t easy for her to raise us either. Now it was our turn to take care of her. Having her in our homes again was amazing. You wouldn’t believe the love that will over ride the job. Think twice, three times, before placing anyone in a nursing home.
You hit the nail on the head with what you said. The other scenario is a guilt complex some people have that they were the ones that “pulled the trigger”.
GET A WILL TO LIVE AT THE FOLLOWING SITE:
It’s better than a Living Will, and has one for each state.
Anyone truly interested in this topic should read “The Nazi Doctors” by Robert J. Lifton.
I have been shouting this for years after the experience we had with my stepfather.
It would have been repeated with my mother last winter but I knew the tactics they would use and I would not back down. They would have “killed” her with over medication in early Nov. Instead she was alert and able to visit with family through Christmas and the New Year, dying at home early in Jan.
I have filed a complaint with the hospital, a well known and highly respected teaching facility.
Good for you.
A hosp. killed my Mother. Because the Drs saidher care was eating up their tax money
I share the sentiment of this author based on my experience. You make a ridiculous statement about hospice being some sort of all knowing, all wonderful entity as if it can do no wrong.
The author here reflects how her mother rapidly went from fully functioning independent one day to heavily medicated and out of it the next day, and dead a week later. I agree this may be a case of overmedication. We are dealing with sensitive issues here and you wildly make judgment about it being anti hospice. In my case, I was deeply troubled by the experience where each and every question and each visit just turned into a ‘turn up the meds’ response. I have read quite a bit about this type of situation and it does seem to be standard policy. We can’t operate like hospice is right just because it is hospice, and more than the common outlook that the government is always going to do what’s right.
Okay, okay. For your case okay, absolutely. Tortured death throes can be managed by modern drips. But, go into the hospital and before you see a “doctor” there, you get the Hospice pusher. This is before any death throes, but you’re barely checked into your room at the hospital. Your doctor does not come to visit you but some retired doctor, maybe 70ish, called a “hospitalist”, who drugs you so well, you are hustled off to Hospice within days. A total racket. Big money. Like no drug enforcement. More drugs, more drug rehabs. Big money. No rehab figures that amount to anything. Outrageous.
My father cancer alerted me to who aggressive these hospitals/hospices systems are .
The hospice kept harassing my step mom about letting them in the door.
I finally called this place and warned them I was going to contact state licensing board and Medicare if they continued to harass my family.
These vultures who were desperate to fill a empty hospice bed as well to get my family to switch their Medicare coverage to that Medicare hospice coverage ( a big mistake by the way).
By the way, ,my father passed away two years later at home in his bed.
***Now it was our turn to take care of her.***
Which is why you are not shouting and pointing fingers of blame.
There is so much guilt, inadequacy and sometimes greed about end of life arrangements for elderly family members. Physicians, not caregivers are authorized to administer treatment; which should be discussed and questioned in detail by the family member responsible for making decisions.
With so many advances in medicine to prolong/extend life - we must become informed and prepared to handle drug reactions and complications. Many elderly people are having surgical procedures well past prior life-expectancy. It’s expensive and not without risk of complications or death. Be thankful for the extra days of life, that they are pain-free and peaceful.
Cool. Can I decide when you die?
I was not refered to a hospice care giver until I requested it after a discusion with my wife and her doctor.The hospice care people were wonderfull in getting all equipment needed for her comfort here at home, the medical nurse and hygene nurses were very profesional.24 hour phone access for any questions needing answers. Immediate response when she died.I think the level of care depends on what state you live in. I was very grateful for them.
Our intellectual superiors want to drug boys instead of dealing with the fact that they behave like boys. Why shouldn't they drug old people, too?
When someone is a problem, just medicate them until they aren't.
My mother died of cancer 9 years ago and we had hospice for the last 6 weeks or so.
They were absolutely great! They did not intentionally dose her meds to end her life sooner. In fact, it would have been humane to have given her more meds during the last 12 hours of her life, even if it would have ended her life a few hours sooner. Cancer is a rough way to go and the last hours are torture.
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