I do think that Americans have the responsibility of making end of life decisions as death nears. This is because they themselves know what their wishes are and they are the only ones who can communicate that when they are fully competent. If they don’t take on this responsibility, then it becomes the an issue that their family, be it their spouse or children, must deal with. Like in the article, this can cause fights and altercations between family members, like the sister who threw a coffee pot at her brother for suggesting to end the life of their mother. If we make it a responsibility to say whether we want to be resuscitated, or if we want respirators, ventilators, or artificial nutrition, then this will alleviate a lot of problems towards the end of life. It was also, like mentioned in the article, will eliminate spending on hospitalizations and procedures that are costly, that at the end of the day the patient didn’t themselves would not have wanted. I think that if the patient has stated their wishes or has had clear advanced directives, then I think that families must support those decisions. They must set aside their own feelings and see that this is in their loved one’s best interest. If those end of life decisions have not been made by the patient, then their families must take on this role, but do it as supportively and as close to what the patient would have wanted. It just becomes difficult in situations with young children who are dying or have died, or people who die unexpectedly.
I don’t think that a patient or the family can ever “know enough” about a healthcare provider’s decision on things, but they should know the patient well enough to see whether the provider’s recommendation would fall within the patient’s best interest. It is hard for those who are not in the medical field to understand all treatments and medicines, but we should be able to understand a prognosis and what our loved one’s would want if not competent enough to make their own decisions. This is when I think the families should question the provider. They should question whether the prognosis is good and whether continuing treatments are in fact going to help the patient or just prolong the patient’s life, uncomfortably.