By Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter

Source: Houston Chronicle

My patients need to understand their options and make their own decisions.

Elderly and seriously ill patients are at risk due to the misguided thinking of two Republican lawmakers. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas suggests that palliative care shortens the lives of elders. And a bill, HR 410, from Iowa Rep. Steve King aims to prevent Medicare from paying physicians to speak with their patients about end-of-life medical preferences. Both men are challenging practices that inform patients about their illnesses and treatment options.

 As an ICU physician, I witness every day the effects that poor access to information has on vulnerable patients. My ICU training programmed me to treat everyone, the strong and the weak, the old and the young, the fit and the terminally ill, in the exact same way: with the most aggressive, life-prolonging tools we had to offer. But over the past two decades of practice, I have learned that this approach inflicts unnecessary suffering on too many of my patients — specifically those with terminal illness, dementia or old age. (…) Read Full Article Here
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