Italian nurse arrested based on 13 deaths

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

According to Dunyanews an Italian nurse who has been arrested under suspicion of killing 13 patients, is suspected to be a "serial killer." According to the news article:

Fausta Bonino, 56, allegedly killed the patients aged between 61 and 88 between January 2014 and September 2015 at a hospital in the Tuscan town of Piombino
Bonino is accused of having given her victims up to 10 times the usual dose of the drug, including in certain cases where it had not been prescribed by the physicians treating the patients. 
The result, police said, was to rapidly trigger multiple and irreversible internal bleeds which killed 12 of the alleged victims. The other one died from cardiac arrest. 
Police at Thursday’s press conference said the arrest had potentially averted further deaths. 
But local newspaper Il Tirreno suggested the hospital authorities may have had suspicions about Bonino early last year. The nurse was moved from the intensive care unit in October 2015 to a role in which she had no contact with patients.

Italian Health Minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, referred to Bonino as possibly one of the biggest serial killers in Italian history.

Link to the full article

Conscience rights for Canadian nurses and Physician assistants are being trampled by their professional bodies

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) have advised their members that they are not required to directly participate in physician assisted death (euthanasia and assisted suicide) but they are required to refer the patient to someone who will directly participate. Therefore CAPA is not protecting the conscience rights of their members by forcing them to refer patients to an executioner.

Physician Assistants work under a supervising physician and therefore they do not have the freedom to decide to work with a certain group of patients. According to the CAPA website:

The PA’s scope of practice is determined on an individual basis and formally outlined in a practice contract or agreement between the supervising physician(s), the PA and often the facility or service where the PA will work.

In the same manner, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) interim guidelines on Physician-Assisted Death (euthanasia and assisted suicide). The guidelines states:

health care professionals who have conscientious objections should refer or transfer a client to another health care provider. If no other caregiver can be arranged, you must provide the immediate care required.

Based on the guidelines for Physician assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association guidelines, medical professionals, who work "under the direction of physicians" have not been had their conscience rights protected by their medical bodies.

Conscience rights, for these groups of medical professionals is essential because they do not have the absolute freedom of choosing what patient group that they will work with and they usually work under another medical professional.

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association should be working diligently to respect the rights of their members.

Assisted Suicide: Nurses in the Line of Fire

Nancy Valko

Nancy Valko

This article was published by Nancy Valko on her blog on November 5, 2015

By Nancy Valko

Years ago, the newly legalized Oregon physician-assisted suicide law caused much discussion at my St. Louis hospital. Some of my fellow nurses said that they supported such a law but when I asked them if they would participate, they were shocked. “No, of course, the doctor would have to do it!”, one exclaimed. Some nurses, like perhaps most people, thought assisted suicide would only occur at a patient’s home with his or her family sitting with the patient watching the drinking of the lethal overdose.

I explained that in hospitals or hospices, would we expect the assisting doctors to be present when the patient ingested the lethal overdose, not to mention staying with the patient and family during the time it could take for the patient to die? My colleague agreed that nurses, not doctors, would probably bear the brunt of the “dirty work” of assisted suicide.

Back in 2000 and three years after Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide, I saw an article from Nursing Spectrum magazine titled “Assisted Suicide: What Role for Nurses?” that stated:

Initially, when the law was designed, the assumption was that physicians would be the first ones to explore PAS with patients,” says Pam Matthews, RN, BSN, administrator for Evergreen Hospice, Albany, OR, “but in reality, nurses are usually the ones in the line of fire…. Much of nurses’ roles lies behind the scenes long before the drama of PAS unfolds. Home care and hospice nurses actively help patients understand their rights, acting as advocates for those who are considering PAS.”

How many nurses are really willing to “advocate” for physician-assisted suicide? The article states:

“Before PAS became law, it was publicly debated, and we performed surveys of our hospice teams’ feelings on the issue,” Matthews says. “We found that most nurses felt strongly that patients should have the choice of PAS, although most said they would not participate in the event.”

Recently, I spoke to a nurse in Washington State who is against physician-assisted suicide law about nurses’ experience with physician-assisted suicide in her state. She referred me to a 2014 study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management titled “Dignity, Death, and Dilemmas: A Study of Washington Hospices and Physician-Assisted Death”. (click on link and click PDF to read the full text)

While 21% of the Washington hospices in this study, mostly religiously-affiliated, refused any involvement in assisted suicide, this study sadly confirms the how legalization has affected both hospices’ and nurses’ role in assisted suicide.

Link to the full article.

My visit to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario Annual General Meeting

This article was written by Adrian Rhodes and published on his blog on April 21.

A record of my visit to the RNAO meeting. Some comments based on my observations concerning the assisted suicide public seminar.

I ended up going to the RNAO Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 18, 2015 and had no little trepidation about it. I had never done something like this before and so did not know what to expect. I left Markham via TTC on a beautiful cool Saturday morning with my small knapsack, a couple of notepads and a couple of pencils. I also took along a copy of Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Eric Bronner. I read that book on the way down on the bus and train. All told, it took me an hour and ten minutes to reach the hotel downtown.

The venue was beautiful; the hotel had been newly renovated and it showed. I looked around the lobby and found a sign for the RNAO meeting downstairs, reached via escalator. I went down and looked at the different displays before any people were around. There were between fourteen and sixteen displays, all related to the RNAO’s work in different parts of Ontario.

Before going downstairs, I asked at a table with an RNAO rep (and sign) if I needed to sign in for the public meeting and was told I did not. In addition, there were no open venues until that one meeting. It would begin at 11:30. As it turned out, the previous meeting, at ten, ran a little late. I decided to go upstairs and have a cup of coffee while I waited. Best five dollar coffee I ever had.

The service was good and I must have looked out of place: Cherry red 14 hole Doc Martens, blue jeans, grey t-shirt, blue alpha jacket and haversack. I certainly had the attention of the staff in the hotel. However, as they got used to my presence, I faded into the background as I enjoyed that aforementioned coffee at the bar.

Link to the full article

Supreme Court Assisted Dying Decision: A New Social Disorder

By Jean Echlin RN, BScN, MScN

Jean Echlin

Jean Echlin

After 35 years of many fearing and rejecting hospice palliative care programs that provide life and death with dignity, we now have Canadians enamored with doctor provided death. The Supreme Court of Canada has abolished a portion of our Criminal Code that prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. They have designated physicians as the group in our society to carry out the act of putting patients to death upon request. The patient must be suffering in a manner that is intolerable to them including both psychological and physical issues. 

It must be remembered that nurses work closely with doctors following their orders and monitoring patients for any positive or adverse effects to treatment. Therefore nurses will automatically be assistants and collaborators in any type of inflicted death.  In addition social workers, chaplains and other members of the inter-professional team will be affected.

Inflicting death on another human being is considered the ultimate act of violence so I ask: “How dare we ask our doctors and nurses to kill us?” But this is exactly what is proposed. 

In my opinion, those who opt to carry out euthanasia and assisted suicide will no longer be trusted. As well I believe that acute and long term care institutions that enable patients to be put to death will not be trusted. Persons afraid of being euthanized will avoid admission on the basis of fearing an untimely death.

Link to the full article