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By Mary Therese Helmueller, R.N.
In 1984, while working as charge nurse in the intensive care unit, a 20-year-old man asked, “Can you give my mother enough morphine to let her sleep away?” I was horrified. “I can not kill your mother,” I responded. That was only the beginning. Recently, an 80-year-old was admitted to the emergency room and the physician said, “LET’S DEHYDRATE HER”; one more patient was sentenced to die in hospice with NO TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS and once again, THE LIVING WILL determined the death of a 70-year-old man regardless of how he pleaded to live. I can no longer remain silent.
Your life may be in danger if you are admitted to a hospital, especially if you are over 65 or have a chronic illness or a disability. The elderly are frequently dying three days after being admitted to the hospital. Some attribute it to “old age syndrome” while others admit that overdosing is all too common. Euthanasia is not legal but it is being practiced. Last year the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 1 in 5 critical care nurses admit to having hastened the death of the terminally ill! I believe the percentage is much higher. I have worked with nurses who even admit to overdosing their parents. No one knows the exact euthanasia rate in the United States, however Dr. Dolan from the University of Minnesota states that 40 percent of all reported deaths is probably a conservative estimation. If this is true then the United States is executing euthanasia at a higher percentage rate than the Netherlands where it is also illegal but widely practiced.