Thursday 10 November 2011

Let my people go

When relatives are sick, you want them to get better. I get that, and I support it. When someone is critically ill, you want the doctors to do everything possible, right? Well, most of the time. You have to look at the whole picture, not just a snapshot in time. Sometimes doing everything isn't the right thing to do. Sometimes it's ok to let people go.

The gentleman I was asked to consult on this evening is just one of those people. He's in a nursing home, bedbound, nonverbal. He developed an "acute abdomen", meaning he needs emergency surgery for some intra-abdominal catastrophe. He was near death, and I told his next-of-kin that he would likely die with or without surgery. She wanted everything done, and on exploration, his entire small bowel was dead. Gangrene. Not compatible with life. Cases like this make me feel helpless because these patients are unfixable.

Sometimes the humane thing to do is nothing.

1 comment:

  1. The last human right should be the ability to die on your own terms, ideally at a ripe old age, with dignity.


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