The Death Doctors – Who Are They?
Voluntary Euthanasia and Involuntary Manslaughter
The names of doctors involved in medical malpractices often remain a mystery to the public, even though they are still seeing and treating patients. We only learn about them when it is too late. In 2009, an American pathologist and euthanasia activist, Dr. Jacob Kevorkian, was tried for his direct role in a case of voluntary euthanasia. The pathologist served eight years of a twenty-five-year prison sentence.In May 2010, an internationally recognized musician from the metal band Slipknot, Paul Gray, was found dead in Urbandale, Iowa. Dr. Daniel Baldi unintentionally caused death with serious injury by continually writing high-dose prescription drugs to a known addict from as early as 2005 until his death in 2010.
Voluntary Assisted Suicide
There has always been a divisive controversy over the ethical, moral and legal issues of euthanasia. According to the Missouri Laws on Assisted Suicide Revised, Statutes of 2000 Section 565.023.1 accessed November 7, 2012; a person commits the crime of voluntary manslaughter if he causes the death of another person or knowingly assists another.
In the United States of America, voluntary manslaughter is a class B felony. Many people from around the world travel to Switzerland to be assisted with suicide. Withholding fluids and food from people who are not dying, to die of dehydration and starvation, is legal in all fifty states.
Vermont is a small state, the second least populous of the fifty United States, bordered by New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Quebec to the north. The suicidal rate in this state is above national average. According to National Vital Statistics Reports, the suicides here outnumber homicide deaths by more than six to one.
A bill was signed into law on May 20, 2013, after a previous attempt to permit doctor-prescribed suicide failed. Patients in Vermont with a life expectancy of fewer than six months can now obtain medication under Act 39 to help them end their lives. Prior to this date, euthanasia was a common law crime in Vermont. It is now a year later, and there has not been one report of a death using this law.
Involuntary manslaughter falls under Class B or C felonies in Missouri. For a Class C felony, the court can impose one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 or a maximum of seven years in jail. For a Class B felony, one can get sentenced for a minimum of five years or a maximum of fifteen years in jail. You can be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the first degree if you recklessly caused the death of another person or second degree if your acts with criminal negligence caused the death of a person.
The charging documents released at Dr. Daniel Baldi’s hearing in Iowa stated that he unintentionally caused the death of Paul Gray by prescribing large amounts of painkillers to the deceased. The physician, who helped run an Iowa Health System pain Clinic, was charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter, including three wrongful-death lawsuits and four medical-malpractice suits.
According to the state medical examiner’s office, drug overdose deaths have increased more than twelve fold in the last ten years, many of which involved prescription drugs. The medical board in Iowa filed charges against nineteen doctors in the past four years for inappropriate prescribing of painkillers, but stated that cases with charges as serious as those against Dr. Daniel Baldi are rare.
An investigation conducted by USA Today, indicated that there are many doctors who have been banned by medical facilities such as hospitals, however, they are not punished by the state medical board that licenses doctors. Jennifer Chaney was killed by medicines that were wrongfully prescribed by Dr. Greggory Phillips to her in 2011. The doctor faced many charges, including abusing drugs by himself.
Dr. Phillips was fined thousands of dollars after he appeared before the Texas Medical Board. The board let him keep practicing medicine for another four years until they finally canceled his license because of more medication errors.The mother of Jennifer Chaney said that if the board moved faster, her daughter would still be alive.
The USA Today research revealed that in the period between 2001 and 2011, out of almost 6,000 medical practitioners who had their clinical privileges taken away by medical institutions, more than fifty percent of them were never suspended or received license restrictions.Nearly 250 doctors were cited as an immediate threat of a patient’s health and are still practicing. Even doctors with the worst malpractice records keep seeing and treating patients.
Medical Malpractice – Doctors Can Still Treat Patients
Head of the Citizen Advocacy Center, David Swankin, says in some medical malpractice cases, doctors can settle without admitting fault in order to avoid high litigation costs. The board has a range of options in dealing with disciplinary reports. Mr. Swankin says that the board takes their responsibility seriously in protecting the public.
However, some lawmakers, such as Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, disagree. Doctors with records of serious medical malpractice are still treating patients. The names of these doctors remain a mystery to the public. Only the medical boards that are supposed to get rid of bad doctors have full access to the information.