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Sunnybrook hospital broke law by enforcing do-not-resuscitate order, says watchdog

The Toronto Star, Eric Andrew-Gee, Staff Reporter

Health Professions Appeal and Review Board rules the College of Physicians should reopen a case against doctors who refused to continue treating an 88-year-old vet against the family’s wishes

Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star to Order this photo

Sunnybrook Hospital is at the centre of an end-of-life case that has deep implications for families seeking to keep terminally ill relatives alive against medical advice.

Doctors at one of Toronto’s biggest hospitals violated provincial law when they imposed a do-not-resuscitate order on a dying man without consulting his daughter, Ontario’s medical watchdog has ruled.  It’s a case that could have major legal implications for families and physicians clashing over the kind of treatment to give terminally ill patients, a debate that has roiled the Canadian medical community and legal system in recent years.

Unable to clean himself, man may finally get help

The Ottawa Citizen, Hugh Adami, The Public Citizen

The Champlain Community Care Access Centre seems to have taken its time with crabby old Gordon Summers. The Cornwall man suddenly found himself without bowel care in late 2013 after upsetting the CCAC with a tasteless comment about mass murder and the lousy service he was getting. He then threaten to sue the CCAS which he acknowledges probably didn’t help the relationship. Earlier this month though, the Ontario Ombudsman’s office told the Public Citizen that the CCAC was interested in resolving the issue with the former client. Summers had complained to the Ombudsman’s office about the CCAC suspending his homecare services. After the Ombudsman’s office spoke to the CCAC, and was given assurances, it felt it was no longer needed. “We reviewed Mr. Summers’ issues, made inquiries with the CCAC, and determined that we would not be looking at the matter further as the CCAC was prepared to work with Mr. Summers to address his issues,“a spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to the Citizen on August 5. But the CCAC, which coordinates services for clients with homecare agencies in Eastern Ontario, didn’t seem to be rushing to get it done. Summers, 62, is a very sick man, with a number of serious health conditions. The bowel care seems almost secondary to those problems – hepatitis C, blood clots, and obesity, to name a few – until he describes what it is like to go for hours in soiled clothing because he is unable to clean himself.  His doctor has requested his bowel care be restored … There is some good news, however, Summers received a second call from the CCAC Friday morning. He was told he might qualify for direct funding through a provincial program. He was told to get in touch with the Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre. Cantankerous Summers did not disappoint when he was told there is a waiting list for funding and that he might have to wait months for approval. “I said: Who’s going to help me right now?” She said: We can’t help you. I said: That’s really nice.”

“I will take my life at noon”

In a letter posted online following her death, 85-year-old Gillian Bennett explains why she chose to take her life before dementia fully set in

The Ottawa Citizen, Postmedia News

On Monday morning shortly before noon, Gillian Bennett dragged a foam mattress from her home on Bowen Island in British Columbia to one of her favourite spots on the grass facing a craggy rock cliff, the place she had chosen to die. Bennett, who was 85 and in the early stages of dementia, chose to take her own life with a draught of good whiskey, a dose of Nembutal mixed with water and her husband of 60 years by her side. Before the shadows of dementia began to cloak her mind, Bennett created a web site,, to be made public after her death, on which she makes a passionate case for physician-assisted options for the terminally ill and elderly.

Dementia drug linked to kidney harm

Antipsychotic medicine increases serious side-effects, death in seniors

The Ottawa Citizen, Don Butler

A new Ontario study has found that millions of older adults who take a class of commonly prescribed antipsychotic drugs are at higher risk for acute kidney injury and other adverse side-effects. The study also reinforced findings in previous clinical trials that seniors who use the drugs, often prescribed to control symptoms of dementia, are at higher risk of death. Because of the health risks, prescribing so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs – quetiapine, risperidone and olanzapine – to elderly patients should be “a last resort,” said Dr. Amit Garg, the study’s lead author … Earlier this summer, the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group announced its involvement in a project aimed at reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs at the Peter D. Clark Long-term Care Home. For dementia patients, “you can do many things before you have to turn to these drugs,” Garg said. For example, “you can control the environment in better ways so that the person does not get agitated.”

MP Pledges to fight for justice over CPS decision

Newbury Weekly News, UK, Report by Dan Cooper

Newbury MP Richard Benyon has vowed to “fight for justice” after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to prosecute a carer who appeared to drag a frail dementia sufferer across the floor of her Newbury home. During the eight minutes of video footage, recorded in July 2013, confused pensioner Lotte Butcher can be heard repeatedly screaming as the carer grabs her wrists. The incident was captured on CCTV installed by the woman’s son Michael in order to keep a protective eye on his mother. The ordeal ceases when the manager of the sheltered housing complex in which the woman lives hears her cries and intervenes. The carer was later arrested and charged by police. The charge was later dropped by the CPS, who ruled that it was “not in the public interest” to prosecute. That decision means the carer has been cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Service and therefore permitted to work with children and vulnerable adults.