Summer on White Coat, Black Art

Well, summer has finally arrived. Enjoy yourself on vacation, camping, brushing up on your barbeque skills, or whatever takes your fancy. Meanwhile, we're hard at work preparing for a new season this fall. Check out our website for updates on shows we're working on and our broadcast schedule.

All summer long, we're broadcasting our most popular shows. Tune in Mondays at 1130 am (noon NT) and Saturdays at 930 am (10 am NT), on CBC Radio One. Note that the shows on Mondays and Saturdays are different. That means you get 20 chances to hear the best of White Coat, Black Art this summer.

This Saturday we explore the boundary between age-appropriate treatment and out and out ageism. Listen for a powerful interview with Dr. Janice Lessard, a geriatrician and passionate advocate on behalf of the rights of seniors.

With that topic in mind, it seems fitting that we mark the passing this week of Samuel Golubchuk, an elderly man from Winnipeg whose medical condition made headlines across Canada and around the world. In 2003, Mr. Golubchuk suffered a brain injury. In October 2007, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, and was placed on a ventilator. In November 2007, his doctors wanted to take Mr. Golubchuk off life support, as they felt his condition had become futile. The family refused and went to court to prevent doctors from doing so. The case is still before the courts. In the meantime, several of Mr. Golubchuk's doctors resigned from the hospital where he was admitted, rather than be compelled to continue providing lifesaving treatment that they felt was unethical.

Mr. Golubchuk's death does not end the debate over what is known among doctors as medical futility, the providing of treatment that doctors believe has no chance of restoring a patient's life to what it was before the illness or injury took place. Unfortunately, with an aging population and scarce resources, this is not the last time we will have to confront the issue of who gets to decide when to pull the plug, and what to do when patients, their families, and the health care team, aren't on the same page.

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Previous Comments (4)

I was unable to listen to this program as I was babysitting grandchildren at the time. I have been working on a paper to present to the Minister of Health which outlines current practices, policies and research around the provision of mammograms for women over 70. Women who are involved in the Breast Screening Program receive a letter when they turn 69 to tell them they are no longer eligible for the program, but urges them to seek mammograms elsewhere as the incidence of breast cancer increases after the age of 70 - a rather startling mixed message! I have heard from many sources that many women find that difficult to accomplish because they do no have family physicians and many doctors are reluctant to make such referrals. The latest research presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference shows that mammograms are effective for women over 70, and indeed, for women over 80. The conclusion reached by many, including several other provinces is that women should not be denied access to breast screening programs on the sole basis of their age. I was distressed to read of the Manitoba government's announcement of plans to improve their approach to breast cancer which failed to address the ageist policy that still exists in this province.

Norma drosdowech

Norma Drosdowech, July 1, 2008 1:20 PM

My husband has been ill for several years and has had several bouts when we though he would loose the battle. However he is still with us and we are grateful for that. I think that the crooks of the problem is the patient, they need to, if they are in good health decide what they want. In our case my husband has said over the years "no heroics" if it is not going to get better let me go. We had this put in writing and it is with our lawyer so that when and if the time comes he gets his wish and I am not demonised for the decision. I know this is program was about someone who was not given this opportunity so the actions would not be the same. But I think when he became unable to make decisions himself the family should have had a meeting and voted on the outcome so that they could make a clear decision when the time was near and that they could not deviate from that decision because of the emotions at the time. Having said that I feel such empathy for these folks, we love our family and the emotions we suffer when we see them in a no win situation is overwhelming, God Bless them.

Leslie C. Welfare

Leslie C. Welfare, July 27, 2008 10:02 AM

Great series but I missed quite a few. Do you have it on cd?

caralee price, September 2, 2008 2:51 PM

I cannot find this interview...How do I get access and listen to it? Ilda Januario


Ilda Januario, December 8, 2008 9:47 AM
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