“This was published first in the Washington Post electronically on 7/29/2017 and will come out in print this Tuesday. Click here for the link. The comments so far in the paper have overall been quite emotional and angry in their response. I am happy to discuss in more detail here on the blog and welcome any input or thoughts. But the responses in the Washington Post highlight to me why we need to not only have more questions with our families on issues of end of life but to have more depth to them as well.”
The dilemma for the critical care team was not uncommon. An elderly patient in the midst of a life threatening illness and in severe pain, not understanding the critical nature of their current situation. A decision needing to be made about how aggressive to be. A doctor trying to convince the patient to pursue a rational approach, one based on understanding the limits and capabilities of life supporting interventions. This situation plays out in ERs and ICUs across the country hundreds of times a day. But two key factors made this situation unique. First, this elderly patient struggling to breathe, battling low blood pressure and in a tremendous pain was my wife’s grandfather. Second, the doctor recommending aggressive life supporting measures, contrary to the limits set by his advanced directives, was me.