Sunday, June 12, 2016

The latest nurse neglect scandal, and you won't believe how close it is to home.

An article broke in the London Free press about a nurse/caregiver who has been charged with abusing her patients.  Specifically, she admitted to sexual assault.  According to the press, she was also out of control and people working with her were afraid of her.

As well, she was known to refuse to serve out pain or Parkinsons’s medications to patients.  She also told complaining patients that they were ‘whining’ and told them ‘I’ll give you something to cry about.’  These are stated facts from the Free Press article.

The nurse admitted to what happened, and the hospital sacked her within an hour of that happening.  Those who were working with her kept a record of her excesses and shortcomings.  Yet no-one came forward with enough force.

When the Ministry did investigate, despite these things happening, the ministry found no fault and no chargeable offense.  And then the situation continued.  My supposition is that it probably got worse as no sanctions equal permission to escalate in the mind of those who abuse.

All this happened before assisted suicide/medical aid in dying/physician assisted suicide etc (call it the name du jour) was sanctioned by the courts and assented to by Parliament.  People were afraid to come forward and family complained, and essentially nothing happened to stop this.

So why is it that we allow this to happen?  Because essentially people don’t care unless it intersects with their lived experience.  And in this case, it’s not them so it doesn’t count.

But what if this isn’t a one-off experience?  What if this abuse – and there is no other word for it – is normal?  What if this happens everywhere?

Here’s why this should really worry us.  In the article in the Free Press, we learn that the nurse with-held pain medication from her patients.  So they were allowed to suffer because of her capricious whims.  So how about this:

The pain medication is with-held, which causes the patient to become delirious, and that leads to anti-psychotic medication.  The person complains that they are not getting looked after, which is ignored (even though it is the truth). This causes the nurse to retaliate by causing further harm.  That leads to the suggestion that the person is suffering too much to continue to live.

That leads to a forced request for euthanasia by omission of care – except that no-one knows that care has been deliberately substandard at this point.  And the nurse who is doing this is certainly not going to say anything about what they are doing.  So the targeted person, rightly complaining, is euthanized not to end their suffering – they are not suffering, they are being bullied – they are killed to hide the abuse.

How is it that this can’t happen?  We have already seen the preconditions to such terminal abuse in this story, and the story is not over yet.  We also heard of a nurse in Italy charged with killing her patients doing the same things because her patients or their families were ‘annoying.’  So this is not an isolated incident.  They are two examples of the same species of abuse.

And this happened before we had medical killing legalized.  What will it be like after medical killing becomes the only ending life option?  Don’t worry because, thanks to iron-clad confidentiality laws, we will never know.  And the government won’t keep track so we as the public won’t be able to find out.  So those who don’t want to hear of the abuse before death can sleep easy in their beds.

As long as those beds are not in hospitals or long-term care homes.

At the basis of this story of the nurse is the assumption that her charges weren’t worth the trouble or the time.  There is also the assumption that the people aren’t at some level human.  What should worry us, besides the inhumane way in which the helpless patients were treated, is the way that the people so targeted were objectified.

When the other staff decided not to raise a public cry about the situation, according to the article, on the basis of under-staffing no less, they participated in the abuse, regardless of when they blew the whistle.

The real question is, if the patients had been killed and not only sexually abused by this nurse, would anything have been done to stop the situation?  Remember, the bottom line for patient care would have improved with each death, and if you have been following Hacksaw Kathy and the way she has been cutting health dollars, we have to know that this would be tacitly approved.

Still think having doctors and nurses and nurse practitioners kill patients is a good idea?

Still think we don’t need public oversight over the cause of death and number and place of killings?

Disabled people's lives are at stake; we can’t afford to reify this ideology.

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