Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How Do You Know When It’s End-of-Life Care?

That is one question that no one ever mentions when talking about the hospital expenses concerning end-of-life care. To listen to our Congressional Clowns talk, one would think that emotional family members just spend money wildly trying to eke out a few more hours of life during the last 2 or 3 weeks of a loved one’s life.

But the expenses in most cases are run up with the expectation that the patient will recover. For example, my niece recently passed away during a liver transplant operation. This was NOT a case of family frantically spending money against all odds. It was a case where a medical board at a large hospital not only agreed that she needed the transplant, but that the operation would be successful. These experts made their decision strictly on objective criteria about her condition and her prospects. They didn’t even know her. And since livers for transplanting are extremely hard to come by, they didn’t believe it was a frivolous or risky decision.

Politicians may “cluck cluck” all they want to about the expenses at the end of life, the fact is that no one knows when it’s coming. And one would hope that even politicians and bureaucrats would hesitate to play God and decide to withhold treatment that might save a life.

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