You May Need to Rein In Your Doctors at the End of Your Life

The Wall Street Journal has a sad article about end-of-life care and being in control. Some statistics caught my eye:

This disconnect has ruinous economic costs. About a quarter of Medicare’s $550 billion annual budget pays for medical treatment in the last year of life. Almost a third of Medicare patients have surgery in their last year of life, and nearly one in five in their last month of life. In their last year of life, one-third to one-half of Medicare patients spend time in an intensive care unit, where 10 days of futile flailing can cost as much as $323,000. Medical overtreatment costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $158 billion to $226 billion a year.

But you don’t care about the money because you’re not paying for it, right? Remember that physicians are much less aggressive with end-of-life care when it comes to their own lives. It’s not about the money.

Read the whole thing.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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