1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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Euthanasia in France.

In June of this year a French parliamentary committee recommended that "passive" euthanasia be permitted under certain circumstances, a reversal of earlier recommendations the committee had made. And in August, in an interview in the French newspaper Le Figaro, health minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said that the government is ready to act on the recommendation. Patients who choose to end their lives would be given palliative treatment and simply allowed to die, according to the British Medical Journal, and they would be required to be conscious and to make the request in writing. Physician groups have applauded the committee's report, but there have been concomitant calls for improvements in palliative care, which has been called lacking.


Poor palliative care for Canadian women with breast cancer.

A study in the September 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that few women with breast cancer in Canada have access to palliative care at the end of life. And younger women were even less likely to receive it. Researchers examined hospital discharge and physician billing databases in Quebec to determine trends in palliative care services provided to women who had died from breast cancer between 1992 and 1998. The data revealed that few women (10%) had consultations with palliative care specialists or were receiving palliative care when they died. These trends were especially notable among women younger than 50.