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.