Wasting Money at the End of Life?

Movin’ Meat: Are End-of-Life costs avoidable?.

Yes.  docs need to learn to say, “No.”

Case in point…a 90-something year old patient, recently had a pacemaker implanted for mild tachy-brady syndrome.  They had some occasional mild tachycardia and rare episodes of bradycardia which were non-symptomatic for a big reason: they were never out of bed or chair.  Yes, this lovely patient was completely dependent upon others for every aspect of their care, not to mention completely demented.  If your idea of quality of life is being 100% dependent on your family and having absolutely no meaningful interaction with them, then this is great.

I can understand doing procedures on folks with whom it will make a positive outcome – like the 80-something year old CABG mentioned in the above link.  It makes sense.  But to do these kinds of procedures on those with poor quality of life is just cruel.  It only delays the inevitable.

In this case, the family convinced the doc to do the procedure.  What makes my blood boil more though is that this same family had another member in and out of our facility spending nearly half of the last year of their life in the hospital in multiple lengthy admissions.  They would not accept that this family member was dying and insisted on all measures being done.  And now that there is a new one heading down this same road, it will probably be the same.

End of life costs are avoidable if we as society realize the death is a natural part of life and accept it.  Instead we claw and fight to eke out the last painful years many have, enduring lives of bed sores, PEG tubes, nursing homes and hospital admissions.  For what, a couple more years?  Years that can’t even be enjoyed because of the multitude of illnesses?  It doesn’t make any sense to me.