Futile Care

When my mom was in the hospital in Springfield, we asked them to provide what is called “comfort care only.” That means they don’t do a lot of invasive tests and IVs and catheters.

A doctor came over to us and told us we were doing the right thing for Sally and he wished more families would do what we did.

A huge percentage of American health care costs are incurred in the last year of life, and much of it is what can be called “futile care” that might make life a little bit longer, but not better.

Here’s what an experienced nurse has to say: “As a retired hospice nurse, I can validate the beauty and effectiveness of palliative care. Both the patient and the family get the kind of individualized support and care that makes the end of life a time of peaceful letting go in the serenity of a calm, well-supported family. As an ex-ICU nurse, I can tell you that we not only waste incredible amounts of money on futile care, we torture our dying patients.”

President Obama has taken a lot of flack for even discussing the idea of palliative care. He’s been accused of organizing “death squads” to decide which elderly people shall be deprived of care and left to die.

But anyone with any actual knowledge of end-of-life situations understands that prolonging life at all costs doesn’t help anyone, except the people who get rich from it, and it often amounts to torturing people who just want to die in peace.