Duty to Die – the laws need to change

Until the laws change, and patients can request to have a dignified death, not much will change. This should not come out of fiscal necessity, but out of socially acceptable norms that allow for those seeking to terminate their existence, when quality of life degrades to the point of absurdity.

Having worked in the VA and military healthcare systems for over 30 years, I have seen many changes. The VA, being public funded, has to constantly increase health care efficiency as dollars are tight. They have made big strides in treatment of PTSD, healthcare for homeless veterans, and many other programs. With our war on terrorism now exceeding decade with no end in sight, our DoD healthcare dollar will be stretched even tighter, which means we need to rethink the “duty to die” idea. There will not be any easy answers, as many will view the even the discussion a move towards “death panels.”

How many people, without any advance directives languish in hospitals, on ventilators in intensive care units, at a cost of well over $1,500 per day, because the family doesn’t want to “pull the plug” for whatever self-serving reason. Is it in the patient or the family’s best interest to maintain life when when the quality of life is gone?

I have worked in nursing homes, and do not plan on ever entering one as a patient (if I can help it), as conditions are deplorable. Why should society “warehouse” our senior citizens and terminally ill? Laws need to be changed to allow for dignified death upon patient request for established circumstances.


Buffalo, NY

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