Physicians And Assisted Suicide; Avoid Getting Sick In July

KHN’s Matthew Fleming selected these interesting articles from around the Web for weekend reading options.

ABC News: Assisted Dying: Experts Debate Doctor’s Role
Peggy Sutherland was ready to die. The morphine oozing from a pump in her spine was no match for the pain of lung cancer, which had evaded treatment and invaded her ribs. … Sutherland, 68, decided to use Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act,” which allows terminally-ill residents to end their lives after a 15-day requisite waiting period by self-administering a lethal prescription drug. … But not all doctors are on board with the law. In the 15 years since Oregon legalized physician-assisted dying, only Washington and Montana have followed suit, a resistance some experts blame on the medical community (Katie Moisse, 7/13).

The Daily Beast: When Chemo Causes Cancer
Clutching George Stephanopolos’s hand on the sofa next to her, (Good Morning American anchor Robin) Roberts announced that she has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a relatively rare blood disease that Roberts herself said she’d never heard of until she was diagnosed with it. Likely even more unfamiliar for many viewers than the name of her condition was Robert’s startling remark that cancer treatment can result in other serious health problems,  including different forms of cancer,  several years after the initial cancer is in remission.  But in the medical world, it has been known for decades that cancer treatment carries with it the risk of causing another kind of cancer to develop (Casey Schwartz, 7/12).

The Atlantic:  Spray Tanning May Cause Cancer, Too — Ask For A Nose Filter
The chemical responsible for the ‘faux glow’ given by ‘spray-on’ tanners, may cause genetic mutations and DNA damage. One of the biggest concerns is the absorption of dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes. … The FDA advises consumers to request protection for their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation. These preventive measures include the use of protective undergarments, nose filters, lip balm, and eyewear (Charlotte Lobuono, 7/13).

The New York Times: Don’t Get Sick In July
It’s one of those secrets you normally don’t learn in nursing school: “Don’t go to the hospital in July.” That’s the month when medical residents, newly graduated from medical school, start learning how to be doctors, and they learn by taking care of patients. And learning means making mistakes. There’s disagreement in the medical literature about whether a so-called July Effect, where medical error rates increase in the summer, actually exists. … From what I’ve experienced as a clinical nurse, whether or not the July Effect is statistically validated as a cause of fatal hospital errors, it is undeniably real in terms of adequacy and quality of care delivery. Any nurse who has worked in a teaching hospital is likely to have found July an especially difficult month because, returning to Dr. Young’s football metaphor, the first-year residents are calling the plays, but they have little real knowledge of the game (Theresa Brown, 7/14).

Salon: My Slide Back To Painkillers
We judge each other’s tolerance for pain. We tell ourselves that pain makes us stronger, that it sharpens our character, that it demonstrates our will. We expect high-paid athletes to play hurt. We debate whether women should use drugs during labor. We wonder if we rely too much on over-the-counter medications for the ordinary aches and pains of life. … When pain derailed my life more than a decade ago, I did not stop to attend to it. I popped a pill prescribed by my doctor and kept going, which eventually landed me in detox with a full-blown addiction to OxyContin. Eleven years later, I find myself wondering what it means to stay “sober.” I suffer from migraines, the variant known as cluster headaches — also known as “suicide headaches” — and as I lie in dark rooms, waiting for the headaches to pass, the question I ask myself is this: How much pain can I tolerate? Or really: How much should I tolerate? (Lorraine Berry, 7/16).