Everyone should read this New Yorker article. Not just because it provides an overview of hospice care, its benefits, and the role it plays in an era when technology can sustain life “well past the point of awareness of coherence,” but because it demonstrates why physicians need to have end of life conversations with terminal patients and their families.
I wrote and re-wrote some text here about Dad’s hospice experience and how thankful I am that he spent his last days at home, with a view of the garden and his fish pond, listening to his favorite books and music, and surrounded by family and friends. But suffice it to say that we were lucky to have a frank and compassionate medical team.
As the cases in the article show, physicians struggle with helping patients decide when to keep fighting and when to stop seeking treatment. And people need guidance. Who, when battling and Googling a fatal disease, can even tell when it’s time to ask this question?
These end of life conversations are crucial. I hope the politicos who coined the term death panel never need to have one.