Health Care Thoughts: Please do everything you can….

Health Care Thoughts: Please do everything you can….

…. to keep mom/dad alive.

Physicians and nurses often dread these conversations. Any of us who have been on the family side of this know how agonizing it can be.

And I know even mentioning this can cause a firestorm.

However, there are some unsettling issues raised by these conversations, issues that are a sort of third rail of health care (and no there are no proposed death panels).

First, does this attitude increase suffering? Many of the elderly have 4 – 10 major diagnosis (COPD, CHF, PAD, diabetes, a-fib, etc. etc.) and very little quality of life. Especially problematic is the ping-pong that often occurs between the hospital and the nursing home (families often see a transfer to the hospital as a magic bullet, physicians often give in).

Second, Medicare is paying for a great deal of hospital care that may have very little value.

No one wants the government making these decisions, but at some point the care is futile and often painful. Some patients and families deal with these issues well, others do not.

For my part, I have a health care POA, a living will, and everybody in the family knows the course of action I want in various situations. Ditto for Mrs. R. It is still tough though.

Tom aka Rusty Rustbelt