Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy National Health Care Decisions Day!

I have harped on this matter before so I won't ramble on too much about it today.

I just think it is very important for us to give some thought and discussion to how we would want to be cared for in the case of a medical emergency, and what are wishes might be for resuscitation, organ donation, and life support.

Working in the emergency department I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness families struggling with these decisions on behalf of their loved one who has suddenly become incapable of making their own choices regarding heath care interventions.

Even if you are a young person you ought to let your family know your end of life wishes, like organ donation or not, and what measures you'd like taken to keep you alive.

It is an uncomfortable topic but will give some relief to your loved ones if they at least have an idea of what you'd want, should an unfortunate circumstance befall you.

Take a moment and look at these websites for some guidance in making your wishes known. and

And if you want a worst case scenario of what really can happen, wander over to Dr. Grumpy's blog and see how it impacts not only the family of those involved, but also the health care workers. This is an important post on the matter.


Grumpy, M.D. said...

engage with grace is excellent. I appreciate all the readers who made me familiar with it after my post a few months ago.

Albinoblackbear said...

I meant to link to that post and then forgot...edit has been made. And yes, I brought this up today in my PBL group. It was received by the usual shifting gazes and shuffling of papers.

I just cannot believe these issues are not talked about more openly in medical/nursing education.

(She steps off soapbox).

Grumpy, M.D. said...


Somewhere in all the lectures about saving life, they lose sight of the fact that we inevitably lose.

Albinoblackbear said...

Yes. And somehow are expected to process, deal, accept, move on in a perfectly well adapted and healthy manner.

Because naturally, health care workers are all born with those coping tools and shouldn't have to consider any of it until it hits you in the face at 3 am and you have a family waiting to hear from you in the 'quiet room'.

(She somehow ends up on soapbox again.)

GENOVEZ said...

yes ABB, that´s very important but, some countries do not have those special tools called laws to make it easier to the families in these sort of situations, e.g. we have to act properly without asking family about the patient´s wishes, if we do we´d be against law! can you believe it??.. greetings ABB, good post!!

Albinoblackbear said...

GEN--Yes, sadly I can believe it.

But even in countries where a patient can have theses wishes legally expressed, it is not unheard of to have family override the wishes and change the outcome.

As a good friend/ER doc colleague explained to me once, "a dead patient won't thank you for honoring their wishes, but the living family members might sue you for it". So who are you going to listen to?

Like I said before, it is a painful situation for all parties involved.