February 15 2006, 5:38 AM
Anyone who has watched a love one suffer with excruciating pain while dying from cancer knows there is something woefully lacking in the medical profession's ability to manage pain. A Colorado Senate Committe took a step forward towards confronting the problem Tuesday by passing Senate Bill 102:
Senate Bill 102 would allow Colorado physicians and nurses to help terminally ill patients manage their pain by administering high doses of medications without the threat of facing manslaughter charges.The bill is facing opposition from groups that believe the bill would encourage or allow physician-assisted suicide.
....opponents says the bill, if it becomes law, may clear the way for assisted suicide in Colorado by shielding doctors from prosecution if it's believed they may have hastened a terminally ill patient's death by prescribing high doses of drugs. "We believe it's a back door to assisted suicide," said Julie Reiskin, executive director of Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. "This bill would provide a blanket exemption when a doctor or a nurse acts recklessly in providing care."The American Cancer Society and many doctors disagree:
The American Cancer Society and physicians testified Tuesday that an estimated 6,800 Coloradans die each year from brain tumors, leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer, among other diseases. At least 40 percent of those who die of cancer do not receive adequate medications to manage their pain because of looming threats of prosecution and lawsuits, some said. "When it comes to pain relief, we do less than an adequate job," said Dr. David Link, an oncologist. ...."I've seen patients live significantly longer when their pain is under control," Link said. "I've seen people lose their desire to commit suicide when their pain is relieved."The terminally ill deserve the most comfortable death we can provide. As Dr. Link says, put yourself in their shoes.