Sometimes, Resuscitating the Elderly Is Just Cruel

Doctor: Patients, families need to have conversation beforehand
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2013 12:34 PM CDT
Sometimes, Resuscitating the Elderly Is Just Cruel

Last week, a British doctor made headlines for his belief that hospitals give up too early on way too many patients declared dead. Now, another is arguing in the Daily Mail that he sees too many elderly people being resuscitated when it makes little sense to do so, all because they or their families haven't talked it out beforehand with doctors. Dr. Nick Edwards (a pseudonym) rattles off first-hand examples of medical teams having no choice but to keep a patient alive, often through extreme measures, because no "living will" or something like it was in place.

CPR "is more akin to a going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson than the kiss of life you see on TV," he writes. It's even worse when performed on a frail senior. The process robs the patient of dignity and family members of a more natural goodbye. Have the talk, he urges. "It's an important conversation to have with anyone elderly, terminally ill, or who has a chronic condition such as end-stage heart failure where they might not survive a deterioration of that condition." Click for his full column. (More Do Not Resuscitate stories.)

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