Montana Doctor Sentenced in Euthanasia Case of Killing Elderly Patient

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Doctor Sentenced in Euthanasia Case of Killing Elderly Patient Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 12
, 2006

Ennis, MT ( — A Montana doctor has been sentenced after pleading guilty in a case involving the euthanasia death of an elderly patient. James Bischoff was sentenced by District Judge Loren Tucker to serve six years in prison for killing a woman after discussing euthanasia several times beforehand.

Bischoff, 48, had been charged with negligent homicide and two counts of fraudulently obtaining dangerous drugs.

During the sentencing hearing, Bischoff became enraged when he found out that the six years in jail was different from the plea agreement he originally entered into which called for just two years in prison.

“I would have went to trial on this if I would have known you were not going to abide by the agreement,” Bischoff said, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

After meeting with his attorneys and the judge, Bischoff decided not to withdraw the guilty plea to negligent homicide that he gave authorities last year.

The case involved 85 year-old Kathyn Dvarishkis who was Bischoff’s patient at Madison Valley Hospital in 2000.

Although the doctor had originally said he wanted only to relive Dvarishkis’ pain after she suffered a massive stroke, her daughter Sandy had testified that Bischoff mentioned euthanasia several times, according to the Tribune.

Bischoff gave the woman a shot of a drug he pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining under another patient’s name. He said the painless shot should have killed Dvarishkis by stopping her heart but ti didn’t work.

“He checked her again and said, ‘She’s as strong as an old horse. I need to get more medicine,”’ Sandy Dvarishkis said during her testimony, the Tribune reported. “The character of the defendant was revealed when he called my mother an old horse. I hope that no one else has to go through what my family has.”

Judge Tucker also ordered Bischoff to go to drug treatment and to pay restitution to Dvarishkis’ family if they request it.

“There is no doubt that this case is an absolute tragedy,” he said. “There’s no way to put a price on a mother and a wife.”