DR. PHILIP HAWLEY (Grant Medical Center). We have people who are terminal on aggressive life support measures. Clearly they are not going to survive. We are spending all this time and money taking care of them. They are suffering, and it’s completely inappropriate.
DR. GORDON: What people need to do is talk about this with their family, with their physician, in advance. If they get a life-threatening illness, a lot of times they won’t be able to. Maybe they won’t be coherent, or they’ll be on a life-support machine. They can’t express their wishes, then they put their family in a bind, so they feel guilty, they don’t know for sure, and then what often happens is the sort of default is, well, let’s do everything, as much as possible.
ROLLIN: And sometimes families disagree about what to do. It’s hard for some to let go, which complicates things further.
DR. HAWLEY: If we could get families to deal with this we would not have this problem. We feel we as physicians should be able to step in and say we’ve got to stop the madness.