Guidelines Will Help End-of-Life Oversight

When the hospice nurse called police in the assisted-suicide case of Barbara Mancini, David Casarett knew he had work to do.

He feared that the actions of one hospice nurse could discourage Americans from using that model of palliative care for the terminally ill, or inhibit dying people in pain from taking morphine.

So Casarett, a University of Pennsylvania physician and chief medical officer of Penn-Wissahickon Hospice, teamed with law professor Thaddeus Pope, formerly of Widener University and an expert in end-of-life law, to develop ethical guidelines for hospice workers nationwide on when to report suspicions of assisted suicide.

They have received a $50,000 grant from the Greenwall Foundation, which promotes bioethical research.

A judge threw out the case against Mancini on Feb. 11, a year after she was charged. In that time, “both her life and the lives of her family have been altered irreparably,” Casarett and Pope wrote in their grant request. “Moreover, this case has a far broader societal impact. Such cases exert a dangerous chilling effect on the appropriate use of [morphine] and even on the use of hospice itself.”

see entire Philadelphia Inquirer article
By Michael Vitez, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: March 06, 2014