Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Alternative

The View From the ICU - The alternative to doing everything for a dying patient. By David Friedman

Although the main thrust of the Terri Schiavo story ended with her (merciful) death on March 31, I was a little too busy having a baby to post my opinion on end-of-life treatments, or prolonging biological life when the soul, to all intents and purposes, is no longer present. This article by Dr. David Friedman explains (quite bluntly) what takes place when "everything" is done to prolong a life. It is fairly horrifying. He then states:
When a patient has a chance of meaningful recovery we rush to do all this and more. Sometimes it is doctors and sometimes it is families who push too hard when the prognosis is grim...a wildly disproportionate amount [of health care spending] is spent during the final few tenths of a percent of a life, prolonging the inevitable, agonizing end for both patients and their families.

My husband and I have discussed this at length, and we decided that we are not interested in draining the financial and emotional coffers of the surviving spouse in order to add a few days or weeks to a life already spent, or keeping our spouse "alive" in body but not mind.
(Now, I have to say I don't especially agree with Dr. Friedman's last paragraph. Having the government give everyone a one-time payment in return for waiving our rights to end-of-life aggressive treatment seems really, really wrong to me. But then, I'm strongly in favor of smaller government. How about you just cut my taxes, please?)

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