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What Does the New End-of-Life Study Mean?
Posted By Sally Abrahms On December 1, 2013 @ 5:07 pm In Take Care | No Comments
When it comes to end-of-life medical decisions, Americans are divided over what they think is right: to pull out all the stops and try everything regardless of the situation, or discontinue treatment and allow someone to die if he or she chooses. A newly released survey by the Pew Research Center asked nearly 2,000 adults by telephone to weigh in on their beliefs, including the hot-button issue of physician-assisted suicide.
The results: 66 percent think a patient should be allowed to stop treatment and die under some circumstances, while 31 percent disagree, saying health professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s life. The “do everything” group has increased 9 percent since 2005 and 16 percent since 1990.
Respondents were nearly equally divided on physician-assisted suicide, with 47 percent in favor and 49 percent disapproving of laws to allow a doctor to prescribe lethal drug doses to a terminally ill patient.
What do experts think? I asked Dr. VJ Periyakoil, director of the Palliative Care Education and Training Program at Stanford University School of Medicine. Here’s her take, not just from the Pew study findings but also from her daily experience working with very ill patients:
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