LEERY OF OBAMACARE?-YES, END-OF-LIFE COUNSELLING BAD?–NO !

As a practicing physician/meta-physician I have previously expressed my concerns re: Obamacare and in particular his failure to address the medical malpractice fiasco.

When it comes to end-of-life issues, however, I have to state my tentative support.  I will leave it 'tentative' until I hear more details.  But as I have previously stated, way too much money is 'wasted' in the last few months of life which do absolutely nothing to help the dying patient.  I believe it is wrong for conservatives to blow this off as some sort of premature euthanasia move.

Anyone who has spent anytime in a ICU, CCU setting will quickly realize that there are patients hooked up to ivs, on respirators and receiving therapies which are of absolutely no help to the patient. 

Now I do strongly disagree with any attempts to ration health care based on age.  Age should never be the criteria for any medical/surgical therapy.  Each case must be judged on an individual basis.  There are 85year olds whose cognitive and physical existence are at such a level that all attempts at maintaining their health should be exhausted.  There are far younger individuals, however, who suffer from progressively deteriorating organ failure whose prognosis is far worse and who may benefit more from supportive and 'comfort' care than aggressive treatments.

Is this potentially 'dangerous' and tricky territory I write about?  Yes it is.  It is why we need to created Palliative Care committees in hospitals consisting of physicians, nurses, clergy, ethicist and community leaders who are willing to evaluate individual cases.  Is it easier to 'do everything for every patient'?  Of course.  But the truth is that often we do more harm than good, induce more suffering than provide compassion, and waste scarce medical resources when there is no chance for recovery or improvement.

As a society, as a culture we need to face these issues directly.  Unfortunately when they become politicized they provide a disservice to our nation and its sick.

 

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