Letters: 'The Case for Killing Granny'

There's no point in going bankrupt to save unsavable lives. But that's a lot different from "killing grandma."
C. Wight Reade,M.D., Seattle, Wash.

As a cardiology nurse of 15 years, this esoteric debate is a daily reality. Patients are often ready to have honest discussions with their health-care providers, but I've found that family members (who are the ones who sue doctors and institutions) are terrified to have conversations about death and dying. If nothing else happens in health-care reform except discussions about realistic expectations of survival, recovery, and quality of life for the elderly, I will count it a success.
Amy Knight, R.Nn.,Grayson, Ga.

Your story was informative and needed. However, the headline was outrageous, misleading, and inflammatory.
Carleton Mckita, Chaplain,Hospice of Nash General Hospital, Rocky Mount, N.C.

For too many seniors, the mere sight of your cover may be enough to convince them that what they've read and seen from a few vocal, right-wing extremists about what health-care reform will do is true. I'm afraid most will fail to get another perspective from the article inside.
John Cosgrove,Keyport, N.J.

As a long-time hospital social worker, I can attest to the importance of older patients discussing their health-care wishes. However, often the most heartrending situations involve non-elderly adults who are terminally ill or suffered a sudden trauma and cannot speak for themselves. Perhaps if the discussion of advanced directives and end-of-life care were multigenerational, "granny" would find it easier to express her wishes since close kin were also expressing theirs. Too often discussions happen in the hospital under stressful, hurried conditions. Better to plan ahead than wait for crisis.
Mary Yank,Franklin, Wis.

Quality of life is what it is all about. If I have a terminal illness and good quality of life, then, by all means, I want continued care. But if I am miserable, then please let me die in peace.
Elliott Brender, M.D.,Villa Park, Calif.

Please, let's get the rhetoric right. "Killing granny" is not the same as allowing granny to die, especially if death is imminent and inevitable. Killing means active euthanasia. Allowing someone to die means withholding treatment so as not to prolong dying. This is the difference between blowing out the candle and allowing it to flicker out on its own. Either way the room is equally dark, but not as chilly.
Carol Mackenzie Jackson,Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

We already have our own bureaucrats: insurance companies who decide to either approve or deny our care. True freedom of choice depends on how deep your pocketbook is.
Van Phan Villa,Corpus Christi, Texas

As a 64-year-old granny, I'm all for "quality of death" after quality of life is over.
Cheryl Breeden,Fort Collins, Colo.

'No Country for Sick Men'
When all is said and done, what distinguishes our system from others is that, in the U.S., medical practitioners and the health insurance CEOs view medicine as a pathway to riches, whereas their counterparts in Europe, Canada, and New Zealand do not.
Hugh Plant,Glenwood Springs, Colo.