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HomeLast Word → How one patient's end-of-life care can affect us all

How one patient's end-of-life care can affect us all Print E-mail
Written by James C. Salwitz, MD | KevinMD   
Monday, 24 October 2016 00:00

David was 42 when he died from stomach cancer. He spent the last year of his life receiving useless chemotherapy and debilitating radiation. David was in terrible pain all of the time. He stayed in bed for months as cancer destroyed his ribs, back and lungs.

Finally, David was rushed to a hospital, plugged into a breathing machine and pierced by countless IV drips. He died despite a battery of tests, drugs and several rounds of rib-cracking CPR.

His wife - previously positive, happy and successful - never recovered. She quit work, drank heavily and spun into a therapy-resistant depression. 12 months later, she used pills to take her life.

At the time of David's death, his son was 17. The teen found comfort in the kind of pharmaceutical intervention that comes from the bottle and needle.

He was high school dropout and in jail by 20. Although paroled at 23, David's son was back in prison by 26. His life had dissolved to rubble.

David's suffering, poorly controlled during that last year of life, was a direct result of a failure to plan for the inevitable and the inexcusable negligence of his caregivers to provide comfort. That misery transferred to those he loved. David's pain continued after death.

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