David E. Richmond: In 40 years of terminal care I’ve never seen unmanageable suffering

by David Richmond, The New Zealand Herald, 16 January 2018

In more than 40 years of medical practice as a physician, geriatrician and terminal care manager, I cared for many dying people. My testimony is that I have never seen a person dying with unmanageable suffering.

Dr Havill’s “take” on a whole range of ethical issues is far from current mainline thought. But what left a particularly sour taste in my mouth was his assertion that the rule of “double effect” allows doctors to “pretend” not to be killing a patient when in fact that is their intention. If we ever needed an argument for retaining a voluntary code of conduct such as the Hippocratic Oath, that surely is it.

David E. Richmond is professor emeritus of geriatric medicine at the University of Auckland.

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