Doc Only Gets Slap on the Wrist in Euthanasia Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 9, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Doc Only Gets Slap on the Wrist in Euthanasia Case

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 9, 2003

Randolph, Vermont ( — Pro-life advocates in Vermont are outraged that the president of the Vermont Medical Society is not being charged in connection with the euthanasia death of a patient.

Dr. Lloyd Thompson, of Lyndon, Vermont ended the life of his patient last August. The patient was an 85 year-old woman who had signed a written document requesting that no extraordinary measures be taken to preserve her life in the event of a terminal illness. She also requested that end of life treatment be designed for her care and comfort.

Thompson took a series of steps to wean his patient from the ventilator and made her, according to official accounts, "comfortable, sedate and not in any apparent distress."

He then admits administering a dose of Norcuron, a paralytic drug, that in no way was related to treating the patient’s pain. The patient died within minutes of the injection.

The family of the patient does not wish to press charges, though neither the patient nor her family asked Thompson to hasten her death.

Following an investigation by the Medical Practice Board and the Attorney General’s Office, Dr. Thompson has been lightly reprimanded and will continue his practice uninterrupted.

Pro-life advocates in Vermont say Thompson’s actions constitute euthanasia.

Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, says her phone has not stopped ringing and Vermont residents are outraged at Thompson’s actions. Beerworth said Thompson knew the drug was inappropriate for palliative care.

Another representative of the pro-life group says the state has devalued the woman’s life with it’s slap on the wrist to one of its own.

"Attorney General, Bill Sorrell, by his actions claims to have sent a strong message to every doctor in Vermont cautioning them against these kinds of unethical and possibly illegal actions," explained Frank Hasler, president of Vermont Right to Life. "It’s hard to see how."

"Neither Sorrell’s inaction, nor the weak response of the Medical Practice Board does anything to adequately protect medically disabled and dependent patients from abuse," Hasler explained.

Vermont Right to Life is asking pro-life advocates to register your objections with Attorney General Bill Sorrell, the Vermont Medical Practice Board and Governor Jim Douglas. Contact information follows:

Attorney General Bill Sorrell
call – 802-828-3173 and ask for your message
to be delivered to Bill Sorrell
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-1001

Vermont Medical Practice Board
Call – 800-745-7371 and leave a message
[email protected]
P.O. Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402-0070

Governor Jim Douglas
Hotline – 1-800-649-6825
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602