Sunday, November 29, 2009

60 Minutes – The Cost of Dying…

This is a valid economic subject. The percentage of money spent on end of life treatment is staggering, and it simply makes no sense.

Listen to the doctor talk about having someone you love “die badly.” I have experienced this with my mother-in-law. A diabetic whose kidneys failed, she lived the final SIX YEARS of her life on a dialysis machine, 8 hours every other day. But that wasn’t the hard part. One day she went to the hospital for a non-emergency visit and she suffered heart failure in the parking lot. My wife’s sister-in-law was with her and presented a “Do Not Resuscitate Order,” one that she had signed and everyone agreed was in her best interest.

The hospital staff refused to honor it, citing legal reasons – it seems that if you keel over in their parking lot, no paper and no set of circumstance will prevent them from trying to save you. They saved her alright… she was hooked to a machine that did everything for her and two days later she actually regained very partial consciousness. Have you ever heard the moans of the dying? You won’t forget if you have… more morphine, please, stat. And more, and more, and more. Until finally, 9 days later, and I do not know how much money and family suffering, but she finally went, the morphine finally pushed enough of her organs into failure. Truly, it was a terrible experience, one that I certainly hope I never have to witness again, much less experience. And for what?

As the Baby Boomers approach old age en masse, continuing such nonsense will be very expensive indeed.

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