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No Good Deed: A Story of Medicine, Murder Accusations, and the Debate over How We Die
by:Lewis Mitchell Cohen
On a blustery night in January 2001, detectives from the Massachusetts State Police knocked on Amy Gleason's door. Gleason, along with fellow nurse Kim Hoy, had helped a patient deal with pain and suffering at the end of her life. Now the patient was dead, and the two nurses were being investigated for murder. Both believed they had done the right thing,...
On a blustery night in January 2001, detectives from the Massachusetts State Police knocked on Amy Gleason's door. Gleason, along with fellow nurse Kim Hoy, had helped a patient deal with pain and suffering at the end of her life. Now the patient was dead, and the two nurses were being investigated for murder. Both believed they had done the right thing, but they had no idea what it would cost them. What began on that cold night for Gleason and Hoy was an experience that would forever scar them, but for medical professionals everywhere, their situation—the death, the investigation, and the aftermath—is a by-product of quiet yet forceful ideological battles consuming American hospitals. These are battles over proper medical procedures, battles over the nature of care, and battles over how terminally ill patients should die. In this captivating and powerful true story, Dr. Lewis M. Cohen uses the experiences of Gleason, Hoy, and the nursing assistant who accused them of murder to explore what happens when decisions about end-of-life care shift from the hospital to the courtroom to the church. Cohen goes behind the scenes on both sides of this debate, examining how advances in modern medicine have given us tremendous tools for prolonging life but have also forced us to address how we treat patients who are dying and suffering. Tracing this issue from the uproar over Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to the controversial figure of Jack Kevorkian to the legitimate threat of serial killer medial professionals, Cohen balances the need for criminal justice with the realities of health care, all the while focusing on the human beings—the nurses, the doctors, the family members, and, most of all, the patients—who must confront the physical and emotional pain of death on a daily basis. What emerges is an evocative portrait of end-of-life care in America, one that takes a hard look at life-and-death decisions but never loses sight of the people who must make them.
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