Medicine’s Responsibilities

Medicine has improved drastically over the years. The success of modern medicine has helped eradicate some of the most deadly diseases in the world, which in turn saved, and prolonged many lives. So when a patient gets the news from their doctor that medicine has failed (e.g., chemotherapy is no longer helping a cancer patient), one can understand the panic that they may have; because when medicine fails, there is a strong possibility that the patient may have death in their near future. Medicine exists to fight disease and death, but eventually, death does overcome and win. Everyone wants medicine to win, but reality is, it can’t always be the hero.

In Gwande’s article, he shared with readers his experiences with terminally ill patients. One story he shared that really stuck out to me was Sara Monopoli’s. Sara’s doctor had given her the news that she had inoperable lung cancer. She received this news when she was pregnant with her first child, so they induced her labor so she could begin her battle with the disease. One of Sarah’s main requests was to die at home and not in a hospital; but despite her requests, she died in a hospital room. Her family made the decision to end Sarah’s suffering and stop all treatments. Her quality of life was brought down because she died in the hospital, and her medical treatments caused harsh side effects. If she had died in a different setting, such as hospice care, she probably would have lived longer and died with much more comfort, the way she deserved. Instead of the doctors throwing medical jargon at Sarah, they should have asked what her interests where, they should have made her feel comfortable. These are priorities that people seem to be forgetting in healthcare. We are constantly thinking about medicine and ways to improve it to save people’s lives and when it can’t, we give up and say it’s the end. What’s most important is giving people a comfortable, desirable death that they deserve. If medicine can’t save our lives then I would hope that it would heal us not only physically, but also mentally, especially in our last moments.



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