Friday, July 25, 2008

What If...Senator Kennedy Said....

“Because I am not a young man, the cancer in my brain will progress rapidly and is likely to incapacitate me in the near future. I trust that my doctors will do everything they can to prevent further seizures and to keep me in comfort. I will not endure extraordinary excess pain and suffering, while hundreds of thousand of dollars will not be spent on surgical debulking, radiation, and chemotherapeutic regimens which do not work.

Modern medicine cannot cure my cancer, but it can keep me comfortable and free of pain. I have already contacted the Massachusetts General Hospital Hospice program.”

Wow! That would have been very surprising indeed. But he did not say that. Dr. Robert Cohen proposed this different approach in a recent guest post on the Freakonomics Blog.

Imagine the reactions if Ted Kennedy had said this. Some might say he is trying to impose socialized single-payer medicine by 'sacrificing' himself and guilting us into not choosing aggressive treatments. Others might see this as a noble gesture and accepting of a situation that may not have a successful outcome. If he had said this would he just faded from the frenzied media circles, or would this start a national conversation about medical choices and the uncertainty of medical prognostication?

Could end of life care be a political hot spot in the upcoming US Presidential race? Think if all those stories about potential hastened death around the world happened in the US in the next few months.


(HT: Scott L)

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