A slippery slope

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I am a nurse who has worked in end-of-life care for more than 25 years, so the challenges of vulnerable people in this situation are close to my heart. I read Bill Keller's article "Humane Departure" (Oct. 9 Perspectives) with special interest and commend him for sharing this difficult story. However, there are aspects of this article with which I disagree.

He states: "The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient ... [is] a more humane alternative to the frantic end-of-life assault of desperate measures." While that may be true, he then goes on to demonize those (including the Catholic Church) who have expressed their fear that any "official protocol" on end-of-life care might lead to euthanasia. I would like to offer another perspective on this.

There are those in our country (I am one of them) who respect life so much that they see the slippery slope leading to euthanasia as a real threat. This becomes an even larger threat when put in terms of dollars and cents. To deny a patient antibiotics for an infection, or simple hydration and nutrition, or even oxygen goes against the dignity of a human being unless the patient himself has chosen not to elect these interventions.

My only hope is that people with complex medical illnesses can explore all these issues with their physicians and begin to make choices as to what measures they might want when they are told that "there is nothing more we can do." No one -- not a doctor, not a medical board -- should superimpose their ideals on a patient who is a complex human being and not an insurance statistic.

KATHY RAIMONDI, R.N.
Castle Shannon


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