Dominating national headlines last week was the news of an Ohio man accused of shooting to death his ailing wife in the hospital. The two had been married 45 years, and some say the shooting was part of a “death pact” promise they’d made to prevent end-of-life suffering.
“This is going to become one of the great social challenges of the next 20 years,” Arthur Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told the Los Angeles Times.
The incident certainly does raise more universal questions regarding a patient’s rights at the end of life, and decisions surrounding end-of-life healthcare and life-sustaining treatment.
The story is this, according to Los Angeles Times:
Sixty-six-year-old John Wise of Massillon, Ohio, allegedly walked into his wife’s room and shot her one time. He was taken into custody without a fight, and his wife Barbara, who was 65, died the next day.
Barbara Wise had recently suffered a triple cerebral aneurysm, and according to her husband’s attorney, “there was a feeling [as she entered the hospital that] she was never going to recover to any quality of life.”
The man’s defense is apparently that he acted out of compassion for his wife, who didn’t want to suffer her last days in deteriorating condition in a hospital. The case against him is, of course, that what he did was illegal and inappropriate, regardless of intentions.
What does this extreme example say of the end-of-life debates in our country? Quality at the end of life is a concern for most, but few understand how to ensure it for themselves or their loved ones. Not many people are likely to be driven to such measures as John and Barbara Wise, risking life and freedom, but many still wonder just what to do when faced with a loved one in such a condition.
Be sure to educate yourself early, and document your end-of-life healthcare wishes to help ease the decisions left to your loved ones, and to ensure the best quality end-of-life experience.
What is your reaction to the Ohio case?
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