Saturday, June 2, 2012

Theodore Dalrymple:

An essay in the New England Journal of Medicine . . . points out that doctors are still largely at a loss about what to do when a patient’s death is close but he could be kept alive a little longer with active and intrusive treatment. Should they present the patient, or the patient’s relatives, with a kind of multiple choice list and let him or them decide among the various options?

. . . [A] survey found that only 16 percent of seriously ill hospital patients wanted to make end of life decisions on their own. Certainly on the rare occasions when I have been very ill the last thing I wanted was to have to make choices: I wanted others to make them for me. I didn’t want to be involved in them at all, in fact.