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

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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.

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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.