I am nauseated that I still need to write about death panels and euthanasia....but apparently, this misinformation is so great that repetition is in order. I watched Jon Stewart wipe the floor with Betsy McCaughey last night over this issue. She made so many false claims....she clearly doesn't understand medicine, the legal standards involved with creating advance directives or living wills, or the entire quality improvement movement. I feel sad for her as she is so misguided.
If you actually want to hear some more thoughtful dialogue on the subject read the NYTimes article by Dr. Pauline Chen. Dr. Chen's article site's an important study from JAMA which draws two crucial conclusions:
1. End-of-life discussions are associated with less aggressive medical care near death and earlier hospice referrals.
2. Aggressive care is associated with worse patient quality of life and worse bereavement adjustment.
So, I ask all Americans out there....who do you want to believe. Research published in one of the most respected medical journals in the world....or Betsy McCaughey, non-doctor and Chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.
Another great NYTimes article to read is At the End, Offering Not a Cure Comfort. Thoughtful reporting about the difficult issues grappled with at the end of life and the heroic physicians who wade into these complicated and emotional water. Betsy McCaughey and others who seek to disparage these type of conversations disgrace these physicians compassionate efforts.