The article “Taking Responsibility for Death” is written by Susan Jacoby, an author who clearly and unmistakably believes in an individual’s right (and responsibility) to make his/her own end-of-life decisions. In my opinion, she is completely correct. For every person who does not have an advance directive, every taxpayer pays for their care in the form of Medicare and other health care providers. An even larger burden lies with the patient’s children who have to pay the bill after the passing of their parent. There is a major demand for people to put their end-of-life decisions into words in a timely manner and express their wishes to the appropriate family and friends because every day matters when health care is as expensive as it is today.
Besides the monetary side of the responsibility, it is just plain comforting to know without a doubt, as a friend or family member, that the patient is being cared for the way that he/she wants. If the patient never told someone or even thought about how they would like their dying process to go, how can they expect anyone else to know? The role of the family, after all, is to make sure that their loved one is as comfortable as possible by supervising their medical care.
The patient nor the family could never be overly educated about health care decisions. After all, healthcare providers can only go by what is written down on advance directives or said by an appointed healthcare proxy. It is always a good idea to question healthcare providers in unsure situations because alternate options can be recommended for treatment. At the end, it may be one of the only ways to ease the suffering of a loved one. Asking questions is always better than being ignorant, especially In cases where it is life versus death.