Thursday, September 24, 2015

Physician's choice of intervention - DNR

This doctor has a tattoo that reads, "No CPR" as a living will.

Unfortunately many of us will, one day, have to make choices about aggressive interventions aimed at prolonging our lives. The default is, of course, do everything possible since life is precious and our family and friends want to keep us around. It has been known for quite sometime however that doctors themselves are less likely to opt for aggressive interventions near the end of their natural lifespan. I first heard of this on an old radiolab podcast I listened to recently, The Bitter End.

Somewhat related is a freakonomics podcast I also recently listened to about the costs associated with end-of-life care and whether we should be given the option to take the money instead of the intervention.
I don't know what I find more disturbing: that some doctors give interventions to their patients that they would not have done to themselves, that some doctors are so traumatized by what happens frequently during end-of-life interventions, or that some of those with the most experience think that modern medicine has the wrong emphasis for end-of-life care. Maybe I'll ask for the money.