…is how doctors die.
Few essays written by doctors are more relevant to today’s crisis in end of life care than Dr Ken Murray’s now famous, Why Doctors Die Differently. It made it to the WSJ today, thank goodness. It’s available for free in its original (and longer) form at Zocala Public Square.
We discussed two cases this week in a review committee. Both patients were elderly and had multiple organs failing, but both underwent aggressive procedures that failed to prevent death. The debate centered on why the bad outcomes had occurred. I suggested that maybe the procedures should not have been done in the first place. Blank faces appeared. One person muttered, “they would have died.” But they died anyways, with a lot of tubes, bright lights and pain.
Dr Murray has it right…
Of course, doctors don’t want to die; they want to live. But they know enough about modern medicine to know its limits.
Knowing our limits. That’s a tough one. My greatest challenge as a doctor in 2012 is not moving catheters, or sliding leads through s-shaped veins; these are easy, compared to honing the skills needed to help patients decide whether they should, or should not have such fury done onto them.