Responsibilities toward end-of-life

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People always find it hard to accept the incoming death of a family member; regardless whether it is sudden (accident), or the result of a chronic disease. There is always this (understandable) desire to hold on the dying person. Although this desire is surely a sign of love and affection, it might go against the wishes, and the well-being of the person who’s dying. This can become an even bigger issue when the family cannot agree on a decision; and so, a moment for family unity and mutual support can turn into quarrels when family members begin arguing over what should be done. Therefore, when it comes to end of life decisions, Americans have a responsibility to take the necessary steps to avoid such situation, should they find themselves in a situation where they cannot speak for themselves. Such steps may include discussing end of life decisions with their children and spouse, now that they’re healthy and able to. They may also opt to have advance directives, and/or appoint proxies.

Patients should play a direct role in end-of-life, i.e. they should always be aware of their health conditions, and make it known to their families what they want, as death approaches. It is also the in the families’ best interest to find out the wishes of their loves ones.

From a medical point of view, I do not think it’s possible for patients and their families to ever know enough to question a decision made by a healthcare provider. However, any decision made by a healthcare provider should always follow the wishes of the patient or his/her family. If it is obvious that the healthcare provider is not acting in the patients’ best interest, then it is within the family’s right to question the decisions made by the healthcare provider. In any case, the relationship between a doctor and a patients and his/her family is very crucial. It is important that the patient and his/her family be able to ask questions to find out the best possible options – that is another crucial responsibility of both the patient and his/her family.

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2 thoughts on “Responsibilities toward end-of-life

  1. Interesting point in mentioning that patients should be proactive in making their own advanced directive. Family members should play a direct role in making sure the advanced directives are written out and in a place where they can be retrieved. I the even something where to happen the health care provider, insurance company, and family will all be aware of the patients wishes. This will help clear up so much trouble that virtually always happens. I have seen many family members get into heated battles over certain procedures being made and not knowing why because their loved one is in a coma.

  2. I agree that end of life discussions should occur when we are healthy and competent, before we are faced with the reality of death. It is easier to be clear about what we want when the actual specter of death is not looming over us. However, I disagree with your assessment that patients cannot “know enough to question a decision made by a health care provider.” It is not a matter of medical knowledge but a matter of values. That healthcare provider cannot make decisions for a patient that involve moral or preferences — he/she cannot know for certain what is best for the patient. Only the patient can make that value judgment, so the patient must be encouraged to question the medical personnel at any time.

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