by Cecelia Cody, Administrative Director
Since the 1960s, there have been discussions about having a “video visit” with your doctor replace the classic “in office” visit. Scenarios of patients meeting with a doctor via cell phone or laptop and the doctor ordering tests and prescribing medications without physically “touching” the patient have become a reality due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Referred to by many as TeleMed, remote access to medical care went mainstream in March 2020 when the Department of Health and Human Services declared that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Medicare would pay doctors and hospitals for a broad range of telehealth services. Services would include care by not just physicians but also by nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, social workers, and other health care providers.
TeleMed allows providers to use modern technology to diagnose and to provide care that, previously, had been only available through in-person visits.
TeleMed is also welcomed by patients, especially in remote locations. Rather than driving long distances to medical appointments, sitting in a waiting room with other sick patients or even having to access an emergency room, now diagnosis, treatment, and care can be obtained from the comfort of one’s own home.
However, we need to also wave a “caution flag.” TeleMed needs to be looked upon with caution to insure it is not used for medical procedures that would be “hazardous to the health and even life of a patient.” As an example, Planned Parenthood has dispensed RU-486, the “Abortion Pill,” via TeleMed.
Might there be the possibility that assisted-suicide advocates could employ Telemedicine to further expand access to Physician Assisted Suicide. As of May 2020. eight of the nine jurisdictions where assisted suicide has been transformed from a crime into a “”medical treatment” do NOT require that either the attending physician or the consulting physician diagnose the patient in person. (Those jurisdictions are Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.) Only Vermont requires that the diagnosis of a terminal condition be made in person by an attending physician and that it be confirmed, in person, by a consulting physician.
Compassion & Choices (C&C), the former Hemlock Society, quickly adjusted the spin and direction of their assisted-suicide efforts by using the pandemic lockdown to advance its goals.
On March 20, President and CEO Kim Callinan sent out an email message pushing telehealth conferencing so patients and healthcare providers can have “office visits” online without face-to-face meetings. She wrote that the pandemic provides the opportunity “to make sure health systems and doctors are using telehealth… for patients to access end-of-life care options.” “These efforts,” she added, “should improve access to medical aid in dying [assisted suicide] in the short and long term.” [Kim Callinan, Email to supporters, 3/20/20; emphasis added]
Meanwhile, the newly formed American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying (ACAMAID) issued a policy statement calling for the use of telemedicine by doctors to evaluate the assisted-suicide eligibility of death-requesting patients, conduct physical exams, and even be remotely present when the patient takes the lethal drugs. The six committee members who wrote the policy are all assisted-suicide proponents. One is Dr. Lonny Schavelson, who runs a clinic that provides only prescribed death. [ACAMAID, Telemedicine Policy Statement, 3/25/20]
Establishing telehealth as an essential mode of medical delivery certainly greases the skids for access to assisted death without the doctor ever seeing the patient in person.
For further articles, and current updates visit: http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/telemedicine/