Lois Wolk
A doctor's warning on 'death with dignity'

To the editor: Columnist Steve Lopez shows himself to be a strong advocate of the "death with dignity" bill in the state Legislature. ("Death with dignity movement is alive and well in California," Jan. 20) As a frontline geriatric, palliative and hospice care physician, I can tell you there are potential abuses occurring even today. Hospitals are intervening in care of elderly intensive-care patients, pushing them to write do-not-resuscitate orders and sending them into hospices. HMOs are curtailing medical work-ups (especially in cancer patients), placing them in hospices and washing their financial hands of those patients. Insurance companies are denying or...