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Tuesday, July 23, 2013 12:00 am

Too afraid to talk about death

This morning Ezra Klein of the Washington Post adds more than two cents' worth to the not-quite debate about end-of-life medical decision-making. Klein discusses the legislation proposed by Oregon rep Earl Blumenauer that I described yesterday.

The problem with Blumenauer’s legislation isn’t that it goes too far. It’s that it doesn’t go nearly far enough....We don’t discuss end-of-life care like rational adults. We call optional consultations “death panels.” Then, when the patient is lying unconscious and intubated a doctor goes out and asks a scared family member whether they want everything possible done to save their loved one, and of course they do — who wouldn’t want that? And so seniors living out their final days get tortured by the medical system because everyone involved was too afraid to talk about death — and the occasional ugly realities of end-of-life “care” — before it was near. 

There's a bigger problem here that Klein does not address -- the refusal of too many physicians to respect the stated wishes of patients and family regarding futile care. But we can talk about that too.
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