The conversation between a doctor and his patient on end of life care should be a discussion.
The Washington Post recently published an article that described a conversation between a doctor and his patient on end of life care that revealed the importance of listening. The article, “When a doctor and patient disagree about care at the end of life,” is an interesting look at making preferences known.
The doctor’s chart indicated that the elderly cardiac patient did not wish to be resuscitated in the event of a cardiac arrest. When the doctor asked the patient to confirm this, the patient responded that he did want to be resuscitated. The doctor then essentially tried to talk the patient out of the change explaining that given his age and health resuscitation was unlikely to work.
The patient got his way of course, and the doctor changed the chart. However, the patient went away angry.
These conversations between doctors and patients about end of life care are very important, but they cannot be one-sided. Doctors need to listen to patients and understand the reasons that patients have for their preferences. In this story, the doctor was able to do that during the patient’s next visit.
Another lesson that should be taken away from the story is something the author does not state.
People should make their end of life preferences known to their families and estate planning attorneys by getting health care proxy that accurately express their own wishes.
Reference: Washington Post (April 18, 2016) “When a doctor and patient disagree about care at the end of life,”