Thursday, July 26, 2012

More on Doctors Refusing End of Life Care

I blogged last year about an article by physician Ken Murray, in which he observed that doctors rarely submit to the kind of aggressive end of life care they routinely give to others. Murray was challenged to provide some statistics to back up his argument, which relied mainly on anecdotes and impressions.

Now he has written a follow-up article that has some numbers. Such as, 65% of doctors who graduated from Johns Hopkins between 1948 and 1964 have or had advance directives, vs. 20% of the public. One thing doctors know is that CPR given in hospitals does more harm than good, and 90% don't want it done to them:
What people have seen on television is at odds with happens in real life. A 1996 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that CPR as portrayed on television was successful in 75 percent of 60 cases and that 65 percent of the patients went home. In contrast, in a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR in Japan, health professor Hideo Yasunaga and fellow researchers found that only 8 percent of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3 percent could lead a mostly normal life. A little more than 3 percent were in a vegetative state, and about 2 percent were alive but had a “poor” outcome.
We give far too much "care" to dying people, to a degree that smacks more of cruelty than caring. The waste is staggering. We need, as a people to rethink how we feel about dying and stop fighting it to the last catheter and injection.

1 comment:

SteveTheRock said...

TV often only reinforces uninformed ideas about death and disability. Fear of death and disability prevents many people talking about end of life planning. Education of writers and producers about the realities of end of life planning may lead to a better understanding by the public about their choices in health care