Thursday, May 12, 2016

How might we reimagine the end-of-life experience for ourselves and our loved ones? - Death on the ICU

"When I worked briefly as a Buddhist chaplain in a Medical ICU I was shocked by the suffering I watched every day as families anguished over what to do next.  There are no words to adequately describe an ICU death.  It is most often preceded by medical interventions that are barbaric – machines, wires, drugs, and pumps sustain a body until bereft family members can find a way to stop the aggressive medical treatment and let nature take its course, often feeling like they are committing a crime rather than releasing someone from prison.  The ICU is no place for siblings or children to have conversations about what a parent or loved one would have wanted at this point. It’s like trying to teach a drowning man to swim.  The die is cast....The pain I saw on the MICU was not just physical but the most excruciating emotional suffering I have ever witnessed.  And yet, that rare family that truly knew and understood the patient could firmly direct clinicians toward the end of life their loved one envisioned.  Most people (about 80%) want to die at home, yet 70% die in institutions.  Where is the disconnect? Why does this happen?  Not surprisingly, nearly 88% of physicians say they would not want the aggressive end-of-life care their patients endure.  How can we bring our culture back from the brink of often brutal over-treatment to the death most people want – a mostly pain-free natural ending at home with loved ones? "

OpenIDEO - How might we reimagine the end-of-life experience for ourselves and our loved ones?

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