* * Anonymous Doc

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What do you say to a woman whose 26-year-old son is dying?

I'll tell you what you don't say:

"I'm sorry to interrupt while you're all gathered around his bedside praying-- but our discharge manager wanted me to let you know that since we've done everything we possibly can as far as treatment, and there's nothing left, medically, that we can try, the insurance company isn't going to pay for you to use the hospital as a hospice, and after he dies, you're going to get a pretty substantial bill. So you might want to have him transferred out of here, even though he probably won't survive the move."

Here's something else you don't say:

"I know you want to try more treatment, but his body's too weak, and if we do anything else I expect it will just finish him off."

And one more thing you don't say:

"I need you to stop what you're doing and before you say another word, you need to fill out his menu for tomorrow, otherwise he's not going to get any food."

I wish I had the grades for ophthalmology.


  1. maybe I'm still naive and still seeing medicine thru rose colored glasses - so i want to say - "hey you don't want to be like that when the power is in your hands". But that must be a naive 4th year medical student perspective.

  2. how did this ethical issue get resolved...I can't seem to find your response to this situation