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.
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.
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.