Doctoring Health Care Reform Hospice/Palliative Care

Let’s stop being ashamed of (discussing) death

I recently wrote a post about what happens when the elderly get sick. It was meant to accelerate the conversation about how modern medicine can’t make us immortal. I meant to say that doctors need to learn to be less ashamed of death. And that patients should at least hear about the risks of life-prolonging care.

Patient-centered care advocates want doctors to give patients choices–not decrees. The choice of not taking the medicine, of not having the procedure and most importantly, when nearing the end of life, to be given the choice of a strategy that aims at maximizing comfort and peace and dignity rather than eking out the most days (or in tragic cases, hours.)

The written word is one way to communicate these important ideas. An amusing and very true-to-real-life xtranormal video is yet another…

Courtesy of the Happy Hospitalist blog…Dr Happy is indeed a very enlightened soul. He’s so smart, his message so important, that I don’t mind that he makes fun of cardiologists (at about the 2:00 mark.).


One reply on “Let’s stop being ashamed of (discussing) death”

The Hospitalist vs. ICU cartoon is hilariously tragic. My parents have been on both ends of the spectrum; father wanted lots of intervention despite a terminal diagnosis and mother wants no intervention at a time in her life when she really just needs to be left alone and kept comfortable. With each case we’ve had to deal with doctors who would not listen to them. And in my mother’s case, her doctor really never examined her much less spoke directly to her about her wishes. With some luck, determination on our part, and, I believe, divine intervention the same doctor has come to us both times to take care of them. She is reasonable, caring and while taking into account family’s and patient’s wishes, keeps all concerned grounded as to just what is reasonable to expect at the end of life. She offers as comfortable a time as medicine is able to provide in the end, but offers no illusion that a flurry of tests, procedures, and hospital stays will keep away the eventuality of death.

Comments are closed.