Palliative care, often called pain management toward the end of life is often in the news in the healthcare community today. While many Americans fear pain at end of life more than death itself, the medical community has not been adept at addressing this issue. After all, what doctor wants to tell a patient they are dying? This conversation can be viewed as an admission of failure rather than an act of kindness by telling someone it’s okay to stop all the exhausting, sickening and painful treatments in favor of being more comfortable and relatively pain free. I’ve personally experienced both sides of treatment and non-treatment. The first, my father-in-law who was not offered palliative or hospice care until 5 days before he died and the second a previously healthy individual diagnosed with pneumonia. This person was reviewed by the palliative care team at a hospital ready to withdraw oxygen, antibiotics and nutrition. This would have resulted in certain death. Fortunately the person’s private cardiologist and pulmonologist were consulted by the family and the plans of the palliative care team abruptly discontinued. Imagine the unnecessary agony these family members were placed under by a palliative care team going overboard. I’m interested to hear from anyone who has personally had this experience. Please post a comment.
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