Tag: end of life

How Doctors Want to Die

How Doctors Want to Die

Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she used to feel performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients.

“I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life,” she says.

It looks nothing like what people see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal.

Gorlitsky now teaches medicine at the University of Southern California and says these early clinical experiences have stayed with her.

“I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, goodbye.’ Because I knew it very likely was not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone’s life.”

Gorlitsky wants something different for herself and for her loved ones. And most other doctors do too: A Stanford University study shows almost 90 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness.

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Why we should talk more about death

Why we should talk more about death

In this week’s Scrubbing Up opinion column, Prof Mayur Lakhani chair of the Dying Matters Coalition, urges doctors to be more open and frank about preparing patients and their families for the end of life.

Imagine a situation where most people with a common condition are undiagnosed and where opportunities are repeatedly missed to identify the problem and to offer good care.

What is this condition? It’s dying.

Each year, an estimated 92,000 people in England are believed to need end of life care but not receive it.

As a practising GP I have seen distressed relatives after a patient has died in hospital.

Often they have not had a chance to see their relative before they died and were unaware of the seriousness of the condition, despite repeated admissions with deteriorating conditions.

Many such patients are never formally identified as at risk of dying and not assessed for end of life care.

One relative said something that haunts me to this day: “I wish the doctors had told me that my mother was dying.”

As a result too many people still die in distress with uncontrolled symptoms, or have futile interventions when this will not make any difference.

All of us, including doctors, must do more to talk about dying.

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