Death Panels and Dialysis

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Chris P. Bacon
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Joined: 02/28/2010

Interesting, thought provoking editorial in the AJC today, talking about "Death Panels".

It seems that doctors routinely order kidney dialysis for terminally ill patients, at a cost to the government of tens of billions of dollars per year.

Supposedly, this extends the life of a terminally ill person at most a couple of weeks or so, and these weeks must be spent in a hospital.

Now, I don't have much experience with terminally ill people, but I've known a few that have had "no heroic measures" aka DNR (do not resuscitate) orders. I think if I was terminally ill, given a choice of spending my last days at home (or in a hospice) seems infinitely more preferable than being hooked up to a machine trying to eke out a few more hours.

It's a tough call. An even tougher question: is this the best use of a "scarce" resource? (in the economic sense). I don't know if I can answer that question with any degree of certainty.

I'm interested in what you think from an ethical standpoint, not so much a political standpoint (everyone basically knows here where everyone stands politically).

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