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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