What should Medicine do when it cannot save a life?

In today’s world, medicine can be compared to something of a lesser god. Medicine has the power to extend, shorten, and transform our lives. However, the use of medicine to prolong life, specifically to those who are irreversibly in their final stages of life is a controversial issue. It is hard to debate on what actions medical institutions should take on the dying because it is easy to deny death, even when it is right in front of you. However, I think medical facilities need to be more selfish and terminal patients and their families must be selfless during the final stages of their lives mainly because of the economic impacts of trying to save the already dying or the ones that are cannot be saved.

For example, in a documentary about the ethical issues for sustaining terminally ill alzheimer’s patients with feeding tubes while they slowly deteriorate, states that it cost about $72,000 for these patients in nursing homes. Even more shocking is that the money comes out of the pockets of insurance companies like Medicaid. This means that a huge amount of money that goes into the economy through taxes and other means is used for these patients that end up passing away a little after.


Patient last days spent in a hospital hooked up to a feeding tube

Of course, when someone with a terminal illness is admitted to a medical institution, doctors should give the patient all the viable medications, treatments, and care. However, doctors have been through a great number of the same situations to know when that patient is at that point of no return. I think that at the point, it should be required by law, that doctors inform their patients of their deteriorating situation, and stop all excessive treatment and shift their focus on their patient’s remaining quality of life. Although, a lot of people might be outraged and feel that the medical institution is giving up on them, but spending all that money on those patients severely weakens the economy and causes suffering for the living who need the money. It does not make sense to make the healthy living suffer just to minimally extend the life of the already dying. It is a difficult subject to touch on because no one wants to anyone else to die. However, terminally ill patients at their final stages need to let go to and try to enjoy of their last days, instead of having multiple procedures and being in terrible pain just to gain a little more time. In turn, the government would not have to cut spending on things such as education and foreign aid to poorer countries.


One thought on “What should Medicine do when it cannot save a life?

  1. Medicine can certainly be seen as something of a “lesser god” by the way it can extend the life of a terminally ill patient, and where I can agree that sustaining the life of a single individual can be expensive, is putting the patient and their family through the physical and emotional suffering worth the money the government would be saving? Do we not have a duty to our fellow man to not at least ease the passing of an individual? Also, could we as a country not cut back on some of the military spending we do to make up for the cost of that medicine? Similarly, if health care was more openly available to everyone, it could potentially reduce the cost of medicine and equipment and increase the number of personnel and facilities. I do agree that some people need treatment and medicine more so than others but I also believe that we as human beings should help ease the pain of those that need it.

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