Saturday, April 4, 2015

Physician-Assisted-Suicide and Pay-for-Performance: an Unholy Union

Recently, a young woman named Brittney Maynard became a symbol for the Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) movement in the United States.  Brittney had been diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer- glioblastoma- which had recurred after an initial brain surgery.  She then moved to Oregon, one of three states where Physician-Assisted Suicide is legal by statute, and purchased the drugs which she could use to end her life.  She kept them with her until November 1st, 2014, when she took her own life.  But not before recording testimony to be played posthumously in California legislature where a bill was introduced which would legalize the practice of PAS.  The bill looks increasingly likely to pass, as the California Medical Association which killed previous versions of the bill now looks to stay neutral and sit out the fight due to changing attitudes among its member physicians.

I have serious concerns about the way PAS comes to be implemented, and how it will interact with the statistical measures that are increasingly being adapted throughout the healthcare system to "measure quality".