Excellent article by Dr. Katherine Schlaerth in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning that is well worth the read:
My problem, as a physician who has practiced medicine for decades, is that I just can't predict with certainty what is end-of-life care, nor can I determine for another individual the meaning of "quality of life."
I recall cases like that of the nonagenarian WWII veteran, comatose for days with multiple organ failure, who with the help of a loving family and dedicated ICU nurses walked out of the hospital, brain intact, to live a few more years.
I've seen "terminal" cancer patients kept alive long enough to hold a new grandbaby, and a 2-year-old's cancer-ridden body sustained for the weeks it took for his heartbroken parents to finally come to peace with his passing.
This current legislation, however, seeks to prevent such costly overuse of health resources through a program of "advance care planning consultation," wherein those on Medicare, or their families, could meet with a "practitioner of advance care planning" every five years, or sooner if illness supervened. Such an adviser need not be a physician, either.