End-Time Responsibilties

hospital bed                                                                                  hydration

Any person has the responsibility to make their own decisions regarding end-of-life preferences. The problem, as Susan Jacoby stated, is that

“In a Pew Research Center poll released in 2006, only 22 percent said a doctor should always try to save a patient’s life, while 70 percent believed that patients should sometimes be allowed to die. More than half said they would tell their doctor to end treatment if they were in great pain with no hope of improvement.”

This statement actually points to the fact that no one actually does want to take responsibility for their end of life decisions. I assume that this has something to do with being afraid or nervous to discuss such things. In all honesty, I am one of these people. I find advance directives extremely important since I have learned about them in class. I am one of the people who “just don’t have the time” to write one up. I am educating myself about different treatments and what they mean before I make any decisions. That being said, people have the responsibility to make sure that their next of kin know what they want should any thing happen to them. Too many people have been kept alive on artificial nutrition, hydration, and ventilators against their will, but they did not take the initiative to ensure otherwise. Families who are unsure of the wants and desires of the loved one they are answering for are surely in the most unsettling of situations. Luckily, my mom has told me over and over again to pull the plug if there is no hope of her getting better, cremate her, and spread the ashes somewhere in a body of water. As for my father, he has a spouse so I really need not worry too much. My responsibility to my mom is to make sure her wishes are met. That is the responsibility of any next of kin. In the case that the next of kin does not know the wishes exactly, they have to do what they think is right. The problem is that it’s really a guessing game. Though a patient and their family may not “know enough” to question the decision of a healthcare provider, they should still ask questions. No question should go unasked in fact. Knowledge is power and how is one supposed to know what to do next if they don’t know what they’re dealing with? A patient and their family should also know that they have the right to a second opinion. The first step is education. After one is armed with the facts, then come the advance directives.

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3 thoughts on “End-Time Responsibilties

  1. I do agree with your statement about people being reluctant at taking responsibility for their end of life decisions, seeing as how it is an uncomfortable thing for people to think about. However, this can also point out that a great number of people believe that doing everything in the doctors power to save a patient’s life is not always the best course of action and that some people should just be allowed to let go. I also agree that a part of the responsibility of the patient lies in speaking with their family and informing them of their wishes before nearing the end of life. This will allow for far less confusion in determining the best course of action in the event they fall ill and there is no cure.

  2. I enjoyed the quote that stated the statistics on whether or not patients decide to tell or not to tell the Doctor what to do. I strongly agree with you on how many Americans do not want to either talk about EOL decisions or simply does not have the time. I spent numerous sentences talking about how the simple fact of fear or stress is a strong factor in why many patients have been put in situations to which were against their own will. Knowledge is definitely power and in medicine that phrase really earns its name because if we were all well-knowledged about what to do when it comes to EOL decisions then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Good job.

  3. Being knowledgeable is definitely key in making EOL decisions and when completing advanced directives. I think it was a good idea to list that as part of one’s responsibilities regarding end of life and it was something I hadn’t considered. I think that this knowledge includes not only being aware of the types of decisions to be made and how to make them but to also including others in the decision and making your wishes known to them. They need to be aware of your feelings regarding end of life so that when the time comes, they are not shocked or saddened by your decision.

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