Letter: Hospice Care Isn’t Always Enough

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing Dr. Ira Byock’s thoughtful testimony regarding physician-assisted suicide to the Vermont Senate Committee on Health and Welfare (“Doctors Should Not Become Agents of Death,” Feb. 17). We agree with Byock’s characterization of hospice care of the terminally ill as inadequate, primarily due to inadequate funding and also insufficient training of medical students and residents. However, even if we are able to develop excellent hospice care with adequate funding and well-trained health care providers, the need for physician-assisted termination of one’s life may still be required for a small number of people. If and when my wife and I become terminally ill, we will certainly access hospice care at our own home for the remaining days of our lives. If, however, hospice care fails to make our lives relatively free of suffering, we would like to have an option to end our lives with the help of our family physicians. We think most people would like to have this option.

Martha and Sikhar Banerjee

New London


Testimony: Doctors Should Not Become Agents of Death

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Following is testimony prepared by Dr. Ira Byock for a hearing on end of life choices held by the Vermont Senate’s Committee on Health and Welfare in Montpelier on Jan. 31. I am Dr. Ira Byock. I am a practicing palliative care physician and direct the palliative care program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. I am a professor in …