Saturday, 7 November 2009

Futile Surgery

Ever wondered why so much time and resources are spent on patients who are going to die? A new book by Ken Hillman "Vital Signs: Stories from Intensive Care" examines the problem that most of us, if we die in hospital, will die in intensive care. This happens even if we have irreversible illness. The treatment does not change the outcome, it just delays death by a short time. Meanwhile the patient is exposed to treatment that may be unpleasant and consume scarce health resources. In effect the ICU becomes the defacto palliative care unit. An extract from the book was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and an interview with Ken was on ABC Radio National here. Both are well worth a look.

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