"Letting Go" by Atul Gawande

If you couldn't tell, I enjoy reading Dr. Gawande's writing.

"What should medicine do when it can't save your life?"

This article discusses the issue of continued treatment on terminal patients. He talks about many cases of how some patients opted to try every possible treatment or even experimental and untested treatments to battle disease, while others chose to cease treatments that resulted in side-effects that destroy the patient's quality of life and enter a palliative care or hospice program to end life peacefully.

Some things that struck me was:
  1. The cost of the patient's healthcare was lower for those that decided for hospice care as opposed to those that continued treatments.
  2. The length of life was not significantly longer in those that continued treatment versus those that went to palliative care.
  3. Aetna conducted an experiment resulting in fewer emergency room, hospital and ICU visits for those that could continue treatment and have palliative care.
He concluded by saying the best way to determine the desired path of treatment is to discuss the possibility of death with the patient and family, yet remaining very sensitive about the topic.

Source: The New Yorker