Pat R's recent posts regarding what medical care she would seek at the age of 77 and others responses to her prompted me to start this discussion. I have been a healthcare provider for around forty years. While I have always supported a patient's right to refuse medical care, including potentially life saving interventions (blood transfusions, kidney transplants, etc.), I also now days feel compelled to be more vocal in reinforcing that no person, regardless of their age or severity of a chronic or acute illness, has a "duty to die". The decision a person makes regarding what medical care they seek should be based on their full and complete understanding of the risks, benefits and alternatives of any proposed treatment. Granted risk sometimes includes financial risk (that is why I won't be getting a cosmetic surgery for my triple chin - I can't afford it). But as many pointed out, people who have worked and paid taxes all their life have been paying into Medicare and Social Security. If the proposed treatment is a covered benefit of Medicare I would never expect the Medicare benficiary to refuse a recommended treatment to "save resources" for a younger person. I want to support a person's personal choice for what is right for him or herself. If a patient I know wants comfort measures, I'll fight tooth and nail to make that happen. Conversely, regardless of age or prognosis, if a patient wants to fight on with various diagnostic tests and treatments, then I will aggressively advocate for that pursuit as well. You don't have a duty to prolong your suffering nor do you have a duty to die. Freedom of choice and control over one's own body means there can be quality of life for as long as there is breath. My thoughts only..any reader is free to disagree.
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