Thursday, June 16, 2005
This week's Slate has a compelling article by a Dr. David Friedman, directed at the general public, about what "doing everything" for a dying patient in the ICU entails.
A quote: Every effort is made to keep the bedridden patient's bones from wearing holes through his or her skin, but frequently this happens anyway, resulting in infection-vulnerable sores. The medicines that maintain a high-enough blood pressure to deliver blood to the important organs can decrease blood flow to the fingers and toes to a degree that causes gangrene. Should the heart stop or begin to quiver, we keep the patient alive by pounding on the chest wall to circulate blood until a blast of electric current can be applied to restart the heart. The ribs usually fracture with the first few thrusts.
The whole piece is like this--grim & accurate. One can imagine how many people might not be "flogged to death" (as we called it during residency) if patients/families knew what it was really like to die in the Unit.