Sunday, July 21, 2013

End of life issues

Modern medicine has progressed to the point that often death comes only after you are 'unplugged' so to speak. We keep our hopes up that time will be far in the future. We plan the way we want to go with our living wills, health care proxies, etc. But I do often wonder how do doctors and health care professionals decide when it does not do any good.

I am being morbid here? I don't think so. I read two articles recently that caused me to do some thinking (which I know can be dangerous but not morbid). 

The first one discusses dying connected to a machine. Do you want to die tethered to a machine? I do not thank you. I do not want to die connected to any machine which might be the least bit uncomfortable.

There is also the issue of what could be called 'futile' care. When does caregiving stop having a benefit? When are doctors continuing to treat patients when there is no benefit? There must be a fine line where the body is too weak or sick to respond to treatment or there simply are no more treatments available. Once that line is crossed, anything more than palliative care is futile. Even keeping someone on a machine could be futile if its merely keeping their lungs breathing and heart pumping.

The article talks about building trust between doctors and patients. But this also should include patients families so they understand that there is nothing left to be done.

1 comment:

Joan B said...

I am convinced that the vast majority of folks continue treatment beyond the point where it is helpful. Time and time again, I've seen doctors provide treatment with little discussion of quality v quantity of life. On the other hand, once someone hits 80 the opposite can happen. it is up to the patient to figure this out. Thanks for the links!

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