When you hear about 2 alleged renegade nurses ignoring the law and causing death, you have to wonder about how safe Oregon’s Death With Dignity law REALLY is.
When you read about the Oregon Board of Nursing failing to report these nurses to the authorities, you have to wonder how effective Oregon’s Death With Dignity law REALLY is.
When you find out that the Director of the Oregon Board of Nursing, (who is a big time proponent of assisted suicide) resigned when this stuff came to light, you have to wonder how monitored Oregon’s Death With Dignity law REALLY is.
When you learn that the Investigative and Compliance Program Executive (2nd in charge) within the Oregon Board of Nursing has been fired, you have to wonder how ethical Oregon’s Death With Dignity law REALLY is.
Ok, it’s not so much the law itself that is troubling, it’s the people implementing it. Does that put you at ease? Not me...
Disability activists have been saying for some time that this law has potential for big problems and this one is REALLY big. This from the Friday edition of the Portland Tribune...
Pressure increases on suspect nurses
Alleged players in assisted suicide may be prosecuted; others, too
BY PETER KORN
The Portland Tribune, Sep 7, 2007
Two Portland-area nurses who allegedly helped a dying cancer patient carry out her assisted suicide plan in 2005 are a step closer to facing criminal charges this week.
Last Friday, Oregon Department of Justice attorneys and Oregon state police investigators, after a preliminary investigation, turned their case files over to the Washington County district attorney for further investigation to determine whether criminal charges would be filed.
The assisted suicide, involving nurses Rebecca Cain and Diana Corson, came to light in July after a former employee of the Oregon State Board of Nursing told Gov. Ted Kulongoski about the case.
In nursing board documents obtained by the Portland Tribune, the nurses admitted to the nursing board that they had administered massive doses of phenobarbital suppositories and morphine to Wendy Melcher without physician approval as part of an assisted suicide plan.
Melcher died four days later, but the nursing board never reported the case to criminal justice authorities.
In July, Kulongoski instructed the state police and the Department of Justice to look into the case.
While Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act — the only such law in the nation — permits assisted suicide, it does so with severe restrictions. One of those is that only physicians can legally help patients end their lives.
According to Washington County District Attorney Bob Hermann, his office will probably take a few months to determine if charges should be filed against the two nurses.
If charges are filed, Hermann said, they probably would be for aiding a suicide, which is considered second-degree manslaughter. Hermann said that representatives of the Hillsboro police and the Washington County major crimes team met with state police last Friday to discuss the case.
Hermann said that prosecuting defendants for aiding a suicide could be difficult. Finding proof, he said, often is particularly hard.
Hermann also said that the fact that the case occurred in 2005 would make it difficult to put together a prosecutable case.
Neither Corson nor Cain had their licenses revoked by the nursing board. Cain was disciplined with a two-year probation, and Corson had her license suspended for 30 days.
The case may be only the first among many to be reconsidered for criminal charges after a report by the state Department of Administrative Services last week found multiple instances of the nursing board not reporting possible crimes by nurses to criminal justice authorities.
Administrative Services investigators were given access to nursing board case files and found cases of potential sex abuse, attempted rape and tampering with drug records by nurses that never had been reported to criminal justice authorities. Some were years old.
The report included a long list of recommendations for reforming the nursing board and was instrumental in the replacement of the board’s two top executives.
As of this week, state officials still were uncertain as to what to do with the unreported cases.
Suzanne Nelson, Kulongoski’s choice to head the nursing board as interim executive director, said this week that she expected the board to consider the unreported cases at its Sept. 20 board meeting. She also said that she would consult with Tom Cowan, the assistant attorney general assigned to the nursing board, about what to do with the cases.
Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk said Wednesday he had not heard from state authorities about the cases but that he intended to call the attorney general and nursing board about them.
Here are some of the questions going through my mind about this, and possibly several other similar situations:
1) We have at our disposal many different pain relieving
medications that are proven to work very well. Was this
patient medicated properly?
2) We also have many medications to treat depression and
other mental health issues which may arise for someone
with terminal illness. Psychologists can also be helpful. Was this explored?
3) Is it worth being dishonest if you have nothing to hide?
Karma is for real.
4) Are slippery slopes good for much else beside sled riding?