April 2, 2012

I Want to Die Like a Doctor

A recent article by Dr. Ken Murray titled “Why Doctors Die Differently” in the “Life and Style” section of The Wall Street Journal caught my eye. I can’t always predict content from the headline. But this time, I knew exactly what the story would reveal. Murray writes:
It's not something that we like to talk about, but doctors die, too. What's unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared with most Americans, but how little. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care that they could want. But they tend to go serenely and gently.
Serenely and gently. That’s for me.

Dr. Murray, a retired clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Southern California, goes on:
Doctors don't want to die any more than anyone else does. But they usually have talked about the limits of modern medicine with their families. They want to make sure that, when the time comes, no heroic measures are taken. During their last moments, they know, for instance, that they don't want someone breaking their ribs by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (which is what happens when CPR is done right).
This blog covered the issue several months ago in a post I titled “The Best Way to Die.” That particular post has become one of the most-read. Now, this article by Dr. Murray underscores my pleasure in knowing that I’ve got the written instructions in place – with my family, my healthcare providers, my executor – to die like a doctor. Yep… a very good thing.

Here's the full article -- first published in Zocalo Public Square -- from which the WSJ piece was taken: How Doctors Die.

1 comment:

Traveler said...

Murray's article should be required reading for everybody, not just residents at nursing homes and senior communities. The comments after the article are powerful, including this one from "Ann": 
Thank you for this article. I have Stage IV cancer and have been updating my advanced directive. My family has not understood why I am going to refuse certain treatments and why I have put NO CODE. My husband read this article and now understands my feelings.