Aggressive medical care: Docs, patients struggle with end-of-life decisions

When it comes to end-of-life decisions, it's often unclear whether doctors or patients should have the final say. 

The philosophical, legal, ethical and economic impacts of these challenging decisions about the type of care patients receive when they are near the end of their lives puts doctors in the hot seat, reports Medscape.

While some doctors overtreat patients--even when they seem to be at death's door--there are patients and family members who want doctors to do anything possible to save their lives, according to the article.

Citing the cases of an 80-year-old woman who had suffered a cardiac arrest and a young man on life support who had endured a debilitating stroke--both of whom received terminal prognoses but continued to live productive lives after medical interventions--there are no easy answers to these challenging questions, the article said.

The use of do-not-resuscitate orders often does little to provide clarity and instead may put patients' families and their care team at odds, according to the article. One internist said patients "deserve the last say." A pulmonologist shared the joy doctors experience when they are able to give patients a few extra weeks or months with their children or grandchildren, while grappling with the reality that increased resources and possible suffering can be involved, according to Medscape.

An oncologist cited in the article offered this advice: "Think twice or three times the next time you see some unfortunate patient and say to yourself that they have no quality of life. They might disagree with you. A lot."

To learn more:
- read the article



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