July 7, 2022

Canadian doctors resign rather than treat man on life support

Complaints that hospital care costs too much money

Samuel GolubchukThree doctors have resigned from a Winnipeg hospital rather than keep alive
an 84-year-old Jewish man who is on life support with minimal brain function.
Samuel Golubchuk has been in this state since last year and the Grace Hospital
is trying hard to allow him to die, against the will of his children. In
February, a judge ordered the hospital to do everything in its power to keep him
alive until a trial can be held in mid-September. However, three doctors have
resigned rather than participate in what one of them called "torture".

The case has provoked a storm of commentary in Canada, most of it hostile to
his family’s desire to keep Mr Golubchuk alive. As one comment in the Radio
Canada website said, "I wholeheartedly agree that this has become a disgusting
waste of precious medical dollars. And to further that. Now we are losing
precious doctors."

Mr Golubchuk’s children claim that he is aware of what is happening around
him but cannot respond. They are incensed by complaints that his treatment is
costing the province of Manitoba too much money. They retort that the hospital
is wasting boodles of money by fighting for the right to pull the plug: "They’re
spending all this money on seven lawyers. Who’s paying for their lawyers?" They
also complain that the hospital has released confidential information about
their father’s condition to make his condition appear worse.

Bioethicist Tom
Koch
commented in the Globe and Mail: "If the doctors’ actions go
unchallenged, it will amount to saying that patients and their families are free
to choose – as long as they choose what a physician approves. That, alas, is no
choice at all. Certainly, there are bounds to patient choice, but those bounds
are typically limited to actions causing real and long-term harm." ~ Winnipeg
Free Press, June 21