‘Existential distress’ said to lead people to assisted suicide
The reasons patients want to end their lives has more to do with psychological suffering than physical suffering, a study based on information from the University Health Network in Toronto and published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.
The UHN study represents all 74 people who inquired about assistance in dying from March 2016 to March 2017. Most were white and were diagnosed with cancer or a neurological disorder, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law, or MAiD, allows for adults with serious and incurable diseases in an advanced state to seek help ending their life. At the UHN, which operates four large hospitals in Toronto, patients must go through several levels of evaluations, and if they meet the criteria, they can go to the hospital to receive a lethal medication intravenously.
For many people, death from a terminal illness may be synonymous with pain. Much of the discussion about assisted suicide focuses on compassionate palliative care for cancer patients and about suffering that can’t be controlled by even the strongest opioids. But that’s not what the people in the new study report.
“It’s what I call existential distress,” said researcher Madeline Li, an associate professor at the University of Toronto. “Their quality of life is not what they want. They are mostly educated and affluent — people who are used to being successful and in control of their lives, and it’s how they want their death to be.” Marijuana extract helps some kids with epilepsy, study says A medicine made from marijuana cut down the number of seizures in children with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot’s possible health benefits.
The study involved 120 children and teens in the U.S. and Europe and was the first rigorous test of a liquid extract from cannabis, without the ingredient that makes pot smokers high.
For those on the drug, seizures with convulsions dropped from around 12 a month to about six. The number did not change for those given a placebo.
The drug is called Epidiolex. It is not sold anywhere yet, but its maker is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
The New England Journal of Medicine published the study last week. Study finds that speeding up sepsis care can save lives Minutes matter when it comes to treating sepsis, the killer condition that most people probably have never heard of, and new research shows it’s time they learn.
Sepsis is the body’s out-of-control reaction to an infection. By the time patients realize they’re in trouble, their organs could be shutting down.
New York became the first state to require that hospitals follow aggressive steps when they suspect sepsis is brewing. Researchers examined patients treated there in the past two years and reported last week that faster care really is better.
Every additional hour it takes to give antibiotics and perform other key steps increases the odds of death by 4 per cent, according to the study reported at an American Thoracic Society meeting and in the New England Journal of Medicine.
That’s not just news for doctors or for other states considering similar rules. Patients also have to reach the hospital in time. Strapped UN health agency spends big on travel Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the World Health Organization routinely spends about $200 million (U.S.) a year on travel — far more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
As the cash-strapped UN health agency has pleaded for money to fund its responses to health crises worldwide, it has also been struggling to get its own travel costs under control.
On a recent trip to Guinea, WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan stayed in the presidential suite at the Palm Camayenne hotel. The suite has an advertised price of 900 euros a night. WHO declined to say who picked up the tab, noting that her hotels are sometimes paid for by the host country.