When hypothetically on the cusp of death, physicians overwhelmingly decide against life-prolonging intervention, with the exception of pain medication. Lisa Wade talked to USC professor and doctor Ken Murray to figure out why:
First, few non-physicians actually understand how terrible undergoing these interventions can be. [Murray] discusses ventilation. When a patient is put on a breathing machine, he explains, their own breathing rhythm will clash with the forced rhythm of the machine, creating the feeling that they can’t breath. So they will uncontrollably fight the machine. The only way to keep someone on a ventilator is to paralyze them. Literally. They are fully conscious, but cannot move or communicate. This is the kind of torture, Murray suggests, that we wouldn’t impose on a terrorist. But that’s what it means to be put on a ventilator.
A second reason why physicians and non-physicians may offer such different answers has to do…
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