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Sue Rodriguez: Setting the record straight

The Story


Dr. Debra Braithwaite wants to set the record straight about her famous patient. Dr. Braithwaite was the palliative care physician who looked after Sue Rodriguez. While she tells CBC Radio that we should be debating the ethics of euthanasia and assisted suicide, Dr. Braithwaite feels she must clear up some inaccuracies in the wake of Rodriguez's death. She says that Rodriguez has been inaccurately portrayed as being in the advanced stages of her disease. She says that while Rodriguez's condition had deteriorated, she was not close to death. Dr. Braithwaite also questions the pain that Rodriguez was supposed to have felt, saying that Rodriguez's pain was well controlled with morphine. In fact, she testifies, there was no need to increase her dosage during those last days. Dr. Braithwaite fears such inaccuracies will emotionally cloud an already highly sensitive debate. When asked by the CBC's Michael Enright where she stands on euthanasia and assisted suicide, Dr. Braithwaite responds that like many others her views are "evolving."

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Feb. 16, 1994
Guest(s): Debra Braithwaite
Host: Barbara Budd
Interviewer: Michael Enright
Duration: 10:41

Did You know?


• Dr. Debra Braithwaite also urged the doctor who helped Sue Rodriguez commit suicide to come forward and disclose details about her death. "I have a problem with secret physicians who perform secret acts," she said during a news conference held four days after Rodriguez's death, "when you're secret about things you can't be critiqued by your peers and public." The doctor who helped Rodriguez commit suicide never came forward and was never identified.

• The World Health Organization defines palliative care as "the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems is paramount. The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients and their families."


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