Nurses deal with life and death on a regular basis. Many go to heroic lengths to save the life of a patient. All grieve over the loss of patients. Every nurse has spent sleepless nights wondering if there was something more or something different they could have done to stave off the Grim Reaper and spare a family the loss of a loved one for just a little longer.
However, when it comes to one’s own end-of-life decisions, those in the healthcare industry can be quite pragmatic. A 1998 poll highlighted the difference between doctors and the general public quite clearly. Physicians were asked what they would and wouldn’t want done in the event of irreversible brain trauma without terminal illness. The majority (60 percent to 90 percent) had no interest in lifesaving measures, life-prolonging treatment or sustenance. They only wanted pain medication to make their passing as free from suffering as possible.
What Would You Choose?
This got us thinking about how nurses would respond to the same questions. While doctors pronounce time of death, nurses are the ones actually at the bedside of “brain dead” patients, watching what happens when death is being kept at bay by tubes and machines. They know better than anyone how long and dreary the downward spiral can be.
When does saving your life not actually mean continuing to live? Would you keep fighting to the bitter end? Would you rather let nature take its course than be poked, prodded and thumped back to life for another day? Is battling disease worth it when your brain isn’t coming back online? What would be easier for you and for your family? Do you have religious or ethical objections to requesting that your care providers withhold life-prolonging treatment if you are the patient?
We’re interested in your answers to all of these questions. Take the following polls and be sure to share additional thoughts in the comments section.
You have an irreversible brain injury, but you do not have an imminently terminal illness. Would you want this life-saving procedure?