Shannon Brownlee's back at TIME Ideas with a new op-ed yesterday: this one about the article we mentioned last month, called How Doctors Die. Brownlee adds more context to the first commentary, by retired physician Ken Murray, with gut-wrenching descriptions of precisely why doctors tend to avoid intense, invasive care at the end of life:
"Doctors also know that undergoing heroic measures is a lousy way to die. They’ve seen what it’s like for an elderly patient to end up in the ICU, hooked up to machines, often semiparalyzed, in pain, lying on what philosopher Sidney Hook called “mattress graves” during his own terminal illness. At a recent meeting I attended, one emergency physician tearfully admitted she didn’t think she could stand to hear the sound of ribs breaking as she perform CPR on yet another elderly patient who almost certainly would not survive."
Brownlee also mentions Angelo Volandes, a physician who's working on a series of videos illustrating what it actually means to go through various heroic efforts at extending life. We think such an effort could be incredibly valuable to patients, and will help prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering, and we applaud the project.