A leader in the right-to-die movement, Wanzer advocates measures that allow patients to control decisions about end-of-life treatment and ensure a peaceful death. With the help of Harvard Medical School faculty member Glenmullen (The Antidepressant Solution), Wanzer, the former head of Harvard University Health Services, provides clear legal and medical guidelines for the terminally ill and their loved ones who are facing these decisions. Drawing on case histories, the author outlines the rights of patients, advises them on how to appoint a health care proxy and on ways to refuse unwanted treatments. Wanzer also supports opting for only comfort care, in which the focus is on minimizing pain and making patients comfortable. Although he emphasizes the need to differentiate between a terminally ill patient's rational decision to end his or her life and suicidal depression, Wanzer argues that when someone is terminally ill and in uncontrollable pain with no hope of improvement, hastening death—through large doses of morphine, refusal of fluids or inhaling helium—should be an option. Wanzer and Glenmullen clearly delineate a patient's rights and provide a wealth of information on a matter most of us would rather not think about. (Apr. 1)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Wanzer, an experienced internist and leader in the right-to-die movement, and Glenmullen (psychiatry, Harvard Univ.; The Antidepressant Solution) present in clear, logical, and practical terms what individuals can do to achieve a peaceful death for themselves and their loved ones. Using a combination of patient stories and their own expert discussions, the authors describe the legal rights of terminally ill patients to end their medical care. They also address the controversial issue of hastening the death of terminally ill patients; two chapters are devoted to various options available to end life when faced with intolerable suffering. The book's valuable appendixes include a sample living will and brief discussions of Oregon's physician-assisted dying law and legalized assisted dying in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. More useful than the many other recent books on death and dying, this influential volume should be on the shelves of every public and university library.