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Author Archive: Thaddeus Mason Pope

About Thaddeus Mason Pope

05/19/2015

Aruna Shanbaug Dies after 42 Years in PVS

Aruna Shanbaug has died in Mumbai after spending 42 years in a vegetative state.

Shanbaug suffered brain damage from a sexual assault and strangling in 1973 by a cleaner at the hospital where she worked. She remained in a vegetative state in Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital until her death this week.  (Wall Street Journal)


In 2011, the Supreme Court considered Shanbaug’s case after her biographer and friend, Pinki Virani, filed a petition asking judges to order the hospital to stop feeding her and “allow her to die peacefully.”  But, as I wrote at the time, the court denied Virani's petition.


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05/19/2015

Monet and Camille [EOL in Art 9]

Monet lived to 86.  But his wife Camille Doncieux died at just 32.

“Camille Monet sur son lit de mort,” or “Camille on Her Deathbed” (1879) is one of Monet’s most powerful paintings of his wife.


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05/19/2015

Monet and Camille [EOL in Art 9]

Monet lived to 86.  But his wife Camille Doncieux died at just 32.

“Camille Monet sur son lit de mort,” or “Camille on Her Deathbed” (1879) is one of Monet’s most powerful paintings of his wife.


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05/18/2015

Whispering of Death [EOL in Art 8]

Arnold Böcklin painted this self-portrait in 1872.  Since there seems to be only one string left on the violin, it seems that death is whispering, "I'm coming for you soon."


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05/18/2015

Texas House Votes to Narrow Futility Law

On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives passed H.B. 3074.   As I blogged earlier, this bill would exempt clinically assisted nutrition and hydration from the scope of life-sustaining treatment subject to Tex. Health & Safety Code 1...

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05/17/2015

History of Cardiac Arrest and Its Effect on Contemporary Medicine (video)

Recently, at the MacLean Center's end-of-life series, Daniel Brauner offered a compelling history of cardiac arrest and its effect on contemporary medicine.  

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05/17/2015

Death Will Come for You [EOL in Art 7]

Edvard Munch painted "By the Deathbed in 1895. Here the focus is not so much on the person who has died, but rather on those who have come to grieve him. While the first four mourners from the left are focused on the person who has died, the fifth mou...

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05/16/2015

Minnesota Case: Final Exit Network Found Guilty of a Crime for Mere Speech

A 12-member Minnesota jury found Final Exit Network, Inc. guilty of "assisting" in a suicide and interfering with the scene of a death so as to mislead the coroner.  Judge Christian Wilton set the sentencing hearing to take place on August 24. The...

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05/16/2015

An Official ATS/AACN/ACCP/ESICM/SCCM Policy Statement: Responding to Requests for Potentially Inappropriate Treatments in Intensive Care Unit

Almost all of the major professional association guidelines on medical futility are more than a decade old.  Finally, a new multi-society policy was published online yesterday.  I was pleased to be a part of it.

There is controversy about how to manage requests by patients or surrogates for treatments that clinicians believe should not be administered.  This multi-society statement provides recommendations to prevent and manage intractable disagreements about the use of such treatments in intensive care units. 


The recommendations were developed using an iterative consensus process, including expert committee development and peer review by designated committees of each of the participating professional societies (American Thoracic Society, American Association for Critical Care Nurses, American College of Chest Physicians, European Society for Intensive Care Medicine, and Society of Critical Care). 


The committee recommends: 

  • Institutions should implement strategies to prevent intractable treatment conflicts, including proactive communication and early involvement of expert consultants. 
  • The term “potentially inappropriate” should be used, rather than futile, to describe treatments that have at least some chance of accomplishing the effect sought by the patient, but clinicians believe that competing ethical considerations justify not providing them.
  • Clinicians should explain and advocate for the treatment plan they believe is appropriate. 
  • Conflicts regarding potentially inappropriate treatments that remain intractable despite intensive communication and negotiation should be managed by a fair process of conflict resolution; this process should include hospital review, attempts to find a willing provider at another institution, and opportunity for external review of decisions.

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05/16/2015

Ignoring the Approach of Death [EOL in Art 6]

Gustav Klimt painted "Death and Life" in 1916.  The allegorical figure of death is portrayed as a robed skeleton, holding a stick, approaching a family that is grouped together.  The family is filled with life, and they portray the full rang...

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