When your elite team of doctors, unwilling to admit defeat or accept failure, does more harm than good.

Walter Miller (a pseudonym) had put together an “A” team to cure his cancer, but it was actually killing him.

On my first day of vacation this summer, I am driving on the Long Island Expressway with my family when I receive a frantic phone call. Given my reputation among friends and family as an expert on death and dying, as well as my poor ability to set limits, I often receive panicked calls on behalf of someone’s loved one in the purgatory of dying.

“Jessica, you need to talk to my friend’s wife. He’s really sick and she’s not sure what to do. Can I patch her into the call? Listen, he’s a real fighter. Don’t mention death or dying. Talk your ICU talk.”

I am an intensive care unit physician with a patient-centered philosophy of care. That means I love to rescue people from the brink of death—but only if they want me to. I’m proud of the shiny machines in my toolbox, but I’m just as quick to counsel against them if they will not help. In the world of ICU superdocs, this type of behavior is not true to form, and I have been seen as a softie, a wimp. Now, even my friend was worried I might sound like I was trying to bump off his pal.

STRETCHING OUT AN ORGAN’S EXPIRATION DATE ISN’T NECESSARILY WHAT A PATIENT IS LOOKING FOR. BUT IT’S SOMETHING TO DO.

“Alright, put her on,” I say, as I fly by the first in a series of missed exits to New Jersey. For the next 90 minutes my husband holds the phone to my ear as I try to get us to our destination. (…) Read Full Article Here

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