Friday, January 14, 2011

Anti-Choice at the End of Life

Here's a clip from my article at The Nation:

Particularly for patients over 65, aggressive treatment and their side effects can be more debilitating than what they’re intended to cure. From CPR (reliable statistics don’t exist, but most studies suggest the procedure saves lives less than a quarter of the times it is performed—and often breaks bones) to artificial nutrition and hydration (which employs a stomach tube for feeding even though loss of hunger and the inability to ingest are natural symptoms of the dying process), treatments that don’t actually improve patients’ lives but provide a significant revenue to doctors, hospitals, and medical manufacturer are common practice in our medical system. Yet patients often don’t know that they can refuse treatments or decide where to die. Providing insurance coverage for discussions about end of life care would help restore choice to those facing a path of unwanted treatment and would reduce the cost of healthcare. It’s a win-win prospect, but that’s the rub: Republicans and their “pro-life” allies have characterized any attempts to reform “aggressive care” as cost-cutting attacks on the most vulnerable.

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