End of life
Palliative care improves comfort and quality of life for people with serious illness and their families, yet many people who could benefit from these services are not taking advantage of them.
Most people would prefer not to die in a hospital if possible, though it’s not something people want to think about. While deaths of hospital patients, and those in emergency rooms, have been on the decline, end-of-life care and advance planning are still important considerations.
When a person needs to be intubated to help them breathe, they are unable to speak, and if something happens it’s possible for someone to die without a chance to have a final conversation with their loved ones. But it’s possible for doctors to adjust intubation protocol to allow for such a conversation.
Despite the challenges of needing to use a battery-operated ventricular assist device (VAD) for heart failure, one man came to terms with his situation and found ways to adapt and enjoy his life as much as possible.
A POLST order goes beyond what a DNR can cover: it allows you to set your preferences for treatments such as nutrition, pain medicine, and antibiotics at the end of life, and it applies both inside and outside the hospital. However, it’s not without its drawbacks. Ultimately, it’s safest to draw up not only a POLST, but other types of tried-and-true directives, to ensure you get the end-of-life care you want.