Archive for March 23, 2012

Most Physicians Oppose Euthanasia Because It Would Hurt Their Income

March 23, 2012 8 comments

For most of human history, physicians were incapable of effectively treating serious diseases. Indeed their efforts frequently resulted in their unfortunate patients dying and suffering at far higher rates than they would have otherwise endured. Physicians only gained the ability to have any worthwhile impact on the course of major illnesses in the 1940s- largely due to technological improvements secondary to ww1 and ww2 which included the development of new drugs (sulfonamides, antibiotics, first anti-cancer drugs, first effective anti-hypertensive drugs, better vaccines etc).

Note that physicians have had almost zero input in developing all of the drugs and technology which now allow them to be somewhat effective in practicing medicine.

Since a significant number of people who get into medical school have always been money and power-hungry, but lesser and timid, CONmen- they took full advantage of the situation to market themselves as mini-gods who required tons of money to exert their magic on their patients. Make no mistake.. few people who enter that profession care about anything beyond enriching themselves and bossing around sick or dying people.

When modern medicine came into being (after ww2) the population of western countries was young and relatively healthy. Consequently most of their diseases were acute or subacute, rather than chronic. Many of the then new drugs and treatments such as antibacterials, antivirals, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotics etc were quite effective at treating many of these illnesses. For a time things looked good..Then the fertility rates dropped to sub-replacement rates and the population got older.

Today most of the illness treated by physicians are chronic. While we have made advances in treating such diseases, our abilities to treat them are pretty pathetic compared to what we can do for acute/ subacute diseases. However the need for more money and profits are driving physicians, hospitals and pharmaceutical/medical device companies to attempt to treat them with drugs and methods of dubious efficacy.

Therefore we have now reached a point where most medical treatments (by dollar value) is used to obtain small or dubious gains in life expectancy at the cost of considerable suffering for the unfortunate patients.

Most rational people understand that prolonging the life of an ill person to the point that it causes considerable suffering without any hope of recovery is not desirable and doing so is effectively torture. So why are physicians around the world, but especially in anglo-saxon countries, so opposed to euthanasia?

The standard and official explanation is that physicians look out for the best interests of their patients and want to protect them from harm. However medical errors, obvious misdiagnosis, negligence and other forms of medical malpractice are officially the 4th leading cause of death. Therefore the ‘ we are protecting patients’ line seems a bit hollow.

An alternative explanation is that patients with chronic and hard-to-treat diseases are cash cows, and the cost of specialized care and treatments of dubious efficacy are the major source of income for physicians.

Access to easy euthanasia would cause a considerable reduction in the income of many physicians. For most of them the specter of reduced income outweighs any consideration of the patients quality of life or suffering.

What do you think? Comments?