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Easing the end of life: Startups that are helping people make the ultimate decision


Stashed in: #health, Medicine

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A couple of recent, extra-horrifying cases involving brain death as well as personal experience have made me think about expressing my end-of-life wishes. If you think having a living will is going to ensure anything, you need to fight your way through this Wikipedia article:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_health_care_directiveI was certainly surprised to learn that even if you have MULTIPLE documents prepared -- at prohibitive expense for most people, I assume -- and have discussed your wishes with all your family members and have appointed a proxy... when push comes to shove, your preferences may still not be respected.Can a startup really do much in these circumstances? I'm dubious but still wanted to stash this info.

I'm dubious too but I'm interested to see what comes of this.

No, from a legal standpoint, holes can be shot in your docs by the living, in much the same way that liability waivers really do very little...ahhh. The best thing is to really communicate your wishes. Here's a site that is intriguing. It really starts that dialog. http://deathoverdinner.org/ Basically, you host a dinner party on the subject.  Chef Michael Hebb did this here, as well: http://learni.st/learnings/50852-alexandra-drane-at-tedmed-2010?board_id=6317 

I think about this a bit, too...I have agreements on this stuff with my family--what will happen to me, but it comes down to the family respecting the person's wishes. Still, I think the paperwork's a good idea. Just going to scribble it down somewhere. 

Essentially you still have to trust the living to do what you want instead of what they want.

In the beginning days of living wills, and DNR's (do not resuscitate), all it took for the medical profession to not respect the wishes of the patient, was one family member that disagreed, the hospital would become to afraid of a lawsuit, so would keep the person on life support.  I thought things had changed, until these recent cases came to light.  Maybe what needs to be done, is the facilities that don't respect the patients wishes need to be sued, but how well does it work for an expired person to sue a hospital?

Right, this is why they usually listen to what the living want.

Here's an interesting case, "Brain Dead and Pregnant in Texas," from this week's Economist. Basically, the woman passed away while getting up to check on her 2 month son in the middle of the night--an aneurysm. Her wishes were to have no life support in such as situation--she is brain dead. Her family respected her wishes, but then the courts stepped in. She is 14 weeks pregnant, and Texas state law prohibits withdrawing life support from a pregnant woman. The family who wanted to respect her wishes, cannot--and to top it all off, they have to pay the medical expenses in a case where they truly feel she has passed away. The hospital will deliver the baby by C-section in about a month. Doctors can't predict the condition of the baby at this time. 

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21595028-rare-case-rouses-passions-among-pro-choice-and-pro-life-alike-brain-dead-and-pregnant

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