The Uncomfortable Truth about Comfort Care

Rebecca Hagelin | Author, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family | Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Uncomfortable Truth about Comfort Care

June 16, 2010

You've probably never heard of Don Holley. But you should know his name - and you should know how his family says he died: in a San Francisco hospital at the hands of medical staff using a procedure called "Comfort Care."

More and more people are finding that the hospitals they have gone to for help are becoming the places that permanently put them or their loved ones out of their misery. In Don Holley's case, the hospital he went to for healing morphed into a medical version of the nightmarish Hotel California after it was too late for him to leave.

I recently wrote in this column about my family's horrible experience in warding off the medical death squad when my dad was hospitalized for a heart attack. We won that battle and dad went on to live several more years. Many of you responded with nightmare stories of your own: stories of loved ones who were killed by the modern medical culture that has developed the personal belief that many patients are often better off dead, and that is up to them to make sure they are.

Don Holley was a 90-year-old man who died in May from choking on a pool of blood caused by medical professionals who were starving and dehydrating him to death. (You can learn more about his death at; and type "Don Holley" in the search box.), but here's a summary of the report.

Mr. Holley entered the hospital after suffering a stroke. Although he was recovering, personnel convinced his neighbor, who had his power of attorney, that Don's condition was so serious he should be put on what they call "Comfort Care." This insidiously evil, but lovely-sounding procedure simply means you are heavily drugged while you are denied food and water. It is a barbaric way of killing helpless patients whom someone has determined aren't worth bothering with anymore. In Don's case, oxygen was still administered while his body was shriveling up from dehydration, causing the blood vessels in his nose to burst and bleed into his throat. The hospital staff decided it was too much trouble to continue to suction the blood from his throat, so they let him drown in his own blood while family members stood by helplessly pleading for someone to save him. 

I wish Don's case was a horrible anomaly - the result of terrible confusion and mismanagement by a bumbling hospital or a crazed, rogue nurse that hates old people. But no so. He was passively but systematically murdered by a medical culture that is now more influenced by organizations like the infamous Hemlock Society - which has cleverly been renamed the pleasant-sounding "Compassion and Choices" - than it is by the time-honored principle to "First do no harm." You must know Don Holley's story because it just might become your own.

How to save your family members from the new Comfort Care? Fight for their lives. Fight tooth and nail if you have a hospitalized family member who is being denied basic care, or if you are being pressured to sign documents you don't understand. Call for free legal help - you can contact the Liberty Counsel at 800-671-1776 or The organization moves quickly to intervene in situations of emergency. 

But don't wait until an emergency to take action. Become an advocate right now for the most vulnerable among us - the sick, the aged, the disabled and the very young. They have a right to live. And when they go to a hospital seeking medical care, they have a right to receive it. 

We live in a culture where we can no longer assume that hospitals are places of healing and help. Not unlike your worst nightmare, a horror movie, or the popular 1970s song, a hospital can quickly morph into the medical version of the Hotel California. There is an evil sweeping our nation that is using very clever, compassionate sounding language to hasten the deaths of people who are inconveniences or who, they believe, don't contribute to society. The very best place to educate yourself quickly on both the history and recent activities of the death movement is at the website of the International Task Force at

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Visit her website at where you can sign up to receive her free e-newsletter containing the Culture Challenge of the Week and how to fight back. Hagelin is also senior communications fellow for The Heritage Foundation.