Friday, November 2, 2012

Physician Assisted Suicide: The Need for a Registry with Ongoing "Big Data" Surveillance

The means for escape......
While the Disease Management Care Blog was pondering a Final Exit methodology to escape the glut of repugnant political ads, it came across this "Not So Fast" editorial in the Halloween New York Times.  Author Ben Matlin gives pause to the notion that death with dignity is an open and shut issue. "Thin and porous" is how Mr. Matlin describes the border between coercion and choice.

In the meantime, policy is dominated by articles like this that reassure readers that physician-assisted suicide will remain reasonably appropriate, palliative care will be available to those who choose to struggle on, "vulnerable" patients will not be disproportionately impacted and that the slippery slope that leads to euthanasia will be prevented by solid safeguards. Ethics and organized medical opposition aside, the argument is that all that remains is the need for a "federal" mechanism with safeguards, transparency and non-physicians.

The DMCB has idea none where this will lead.  It suggests, however, given the significant estate tax considerations that surround the timing of a death, that this is an issue that calls for a registry with ongoing "Big Data" style surveillance.  If nationwide trends show a significant association between assisted suicide events and the various and shifting local, state or federal tax deadlines, we'll know that we've made a terrible mistake.

Image from Wikepedia

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