Monday, June 5, 2006
Ronald Cranford MD, a neurologist at Hennepin County Medical Center & the University of Minnesota, died last week in a hospice in the Twin Cities. He was deeply involved with the movement to establish ethics committees at US hospitals, in defining the persistent vegetative state, and was personally involved (as an expert witness and advocate) in the Nancy Cruzan and Terri Schiavo cases, among many, many others. He was also one of the first to describe DNR orders in the medical literature. He was an unapologetic (and at times undiplomatic) advocate of the rights of people, even incapacitated people, to refuse unwanted medical care at the end of life, and didn't mince words when speaking about it publicly ( e.g. calls Fox News' Joe Scarborough stupid here). He was widely reviled in the right-wing & "right-to-life" press because of this, and despite publicly proclaiming his opposition to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide all his life was widely branded by his enemies as an "euthanasia doctor," Dr. Death, etc.
I went to school at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Cranford was my attending while I was on my neurology clerkship. My memories are of doing more ethics consultations than neuro consultations, and the first several family meetings I sat in on as a fledgling doctor were lead by him. I remember strongly his humor, gentleness, and brash personality.
Obituaries here & here.