How can I determine how my doctor feels about end-of-life issues?

Barbara Coombs Lee
Hospice Nursing
I recommend starting with a positive, upbeat declaration that, by gum, you feel healthy, you love life and you intend to savor its fullness as long as humanly possible. But you also believe in preparedness, and you’d like to make sure the two of you would be on the same wavelength in an end-of-life situation. Try one of these questions: 
  • "Doc, if I had an illness that looked pretty grim, how would you feel if I wanted to take a pass on the heroics and let nature take its course?"
  • "I wouldn’t want my family fighting over keeping me alive if I were in the condition of Terri Schiavo, with no chance of recovery. How would you handle a situation like that?"
  • "What if I were dying and really struggling with pain or other agonies? Would you prescribe enough pain medication and sedatives to keep me comfortable, even if it meant my life might be a little shorter?"
Above all, value humility in your physician. Find a doctor who utters the words ”I don’t know” and you’ve found true gold.

Continue Learning about End Of Life Issues

How can physical touch help a person with a terminal illness?
David KuhlDavid Kuhl
Some people who know they have a terminal illness feel out of touch -- out of touch with who the...
More Answers
What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, the distribution of your estate will ultimately be decided by a judge who...
More Answers
What is the Montana aid in dying ruling?
Barbara Coombs LeeBarbara Coombs Lee
On New Year’s Eve 2009, Montana’s Supreme Court handed down the ruling in Baxter v. Montana and auth...
More Answers
Is probate necessary?
In some states, small estates can avoid probate (check your jurisdiction for the definition of a sma...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.