Health
Thursday, April 19, 2018
 
Prosecuting physicians requires evidence

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I spent nine years on the Delaware Board of Medical Licensing and Discipline. One of the things I learned during that time was that it is not the board that actually prosecutes physicians for inappropriate behavior. Prosecution is done by the State Attorney Generals office. In order for them to prosecute, evidence is needed. If someone feels there are issues with a physician, they can report it to the board. However, the board will have to find enough evidence of a problem to send it to the Attorney Generals office. Sometimes that is difficult to do. Just like an attorney general in a criminal proceeding, they need to have enough evidence to proceed. A good example of this is related to prescribing opioids for pain. It is sometimes very difficult to find enough evidence that a physician is abusing their prescribing privileges. As a state we are now looking at another area that is difficult to evaluate - physician assisted suicide. This topic is currently under discussion. When I was originally asked about it, I expressed concern about how we would evaluate physicians who might be abusing it. That led me to find out about an organization known as Compassion and Choices in Oregon. The organization was originally known as The Hemlock Society. They later changed their name to Compassion in Dying and finally became known as Compassion and Choices. They became involved with the first assisted suicide death in Oregon - a woman with breast cancer who had been diagnosed 22 years earlier. Her initial request went through her primary care physician and another doctor. They determined that the underlying problem was depression and not terminal cancer. She went to Compassion in Dying and they wrote her a prescription for a lethal dose of medication. Over the years Compassion and Choices became more involved in this area. By 2002, about 75 percent of physician assisted suicide deaths in Oregon involved their physicians. By 2003, the number rose to 79 percent. In 2008, they were involved in 88 percent of the deaths. In 2009, they were involved in 57 of the 59 physician assisted suicide deaths. They provided no further information after that date. Their website states: Compassion & Choices improves care and expands options for the end of life. We support, educate and advocate. Across the nation, we work to ensure healthcare providers honor and enable patients decisions about their care. To make this vision a reality, Compassion & Choices works nationwide in state legislatures, Congress, courts, medical settings and communities. They also state: The Delaware End of Life Options Act (HB 160) has passed a key committee in the Delaware House of Representatives, and its awaiting a vote by the full House. Were hopeful we can build support to pass the legislation this year. It makes me wonder whether they are advocates or just found a niche for making money from people in need. They are already here in Delaware. I am glad I am not on the medical board trying to see if they are doing the right thing.

Kidney Walk is April 29 The National Kidney Foundation of Maryland Serving Maryland and Delaware will hold its 10th annual Southern Delaware Kidney Walk, Sunday, April 29, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. More than 600 people are expected to step up to raise awareness of kidney disease, organ donation and the importance of early screening and healthy lifestyle for those at risk. Approximately 2,175 Delawareans are on dialysis and more than 400 Delawareans are on the organ transplant waiting list. With the increase in diabetes and high blood pressure, the numbers continue to climb. Check in begins at 10 a.m. at the Picnic Pavilion. Following a brief ceremony emceed by WBOC-TV Sussex County Bureau Chief Madeleine Overturf, the walk kicks off at 11 a.m. Participants can choose from a 3-mile route or a shorter, patient-friendly route for strollers and wheelchairs. The event also features entertainment, refreshments, a petting zoo, photo booth, interactive vendor booths and the Kidney Kids Corner with face painting and games. Funds raised through Kidney Walk will directly support NKFs local patient services, education and research efforts. Participation is free, but donations are encouraged. For online registration, visit www.kidneywalk.org.

To learn about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call 410-726-8732 to speak with Nicole Scharf, NKFs associate executive director for the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Southern Delaware.

Alzheimers programs offered The Caregiver Resource Center at the Modern Maturity Center located at 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover, is offering a series of educational programs presented by Jamie Magee, coordinator for the Alzheimers Association. The following free program is being offered: Wednesday, May 16, 1011:30 a.m. - Understanding and Responding to Dementia Related Behaviors. Register by May 11. To register, call 800-272-3900 or email Sharon Jarnette at sjarnette@alz.org.

Diabetes support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts free diabetes support groups on Mondays four times a year from 5 to 6 p.m., in the Medical Staff Conference Room. Pre-registration is required. 2018 schedule- June 18 The ABCDs of Diabetes with Medicare with Lakia Turner, community relations officer, State of Delaware September 17 Move with Jonathan with Jonathan Souder, MS, fitness director, Manor House December 3 The Dish on Diabetes - Learn food preparation skills for simple, savory diabetic dishes. For more information or to register, contact Nanticokes Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2288.

Diabetes support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts free diabetes support groups on Mondays four times a year from 5 to 6 p.m., in the Medical Staff Conference Room. Pre-registration is required. 2018 schedule- June 18 The ABCDs of Diabetes with Medicare with Lakia Turner, community relations officer, State of Delaware September 17 Move with Jonathan with Jonathan Souder, MS, fitness director, Manor House December 3 The Dish on Diabetes - Learn food preparation skills for simple, savory diabetic dishes. For more information or to register, contact Nanticokes Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2288.

Bariatric support groups Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery hosts free bariatric support groups three times a month at the Nanticoke Training Center in Seaford. These support groups provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery and are open to the public. Support group meetings consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. The general bariatric support group is open to all bariatric patients before and after their surgery and is held monthly on the first Monday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the fourth Monday from 6 to 7 p.m. The post-op bariatric support group is designed for post-op bariatric patients and is held on the second Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. For more info about these support groups or other services provided by Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery, visit www.nanticokeweightloss.org or call 536-5395.

Childbirth classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet for five weeks four weeks related to childbirth education and the fifth week will be a breastfeeding class. 2018 dates: April 19, 26; May 16, 24, 31, June 7, 14; July 5, 12, 19, 26, Aug. 2; Aug. 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1; *Nov. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 (*Tuesdays). The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support, and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticokes Mother & Baby Care Center. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Pre-registration is required for either class. To register or for more information, call 629-6611, ext. 2540.