The Atlantic: A 2012 report from the California HealthCare Foundation found that, while 80 percent of people said that if they were seriously ill, they’d want to discuss their end-of-life options with their doctor, only 7 percent had actually had this conversation.
When the conversation does happen, according to an editorial that accompanied the email study, it’s usually during the stressful, painful, and confusing final hours of a patient’s life. The decision is wrested from the patient — or from a distressed family member called upon to act on their behalf — without anyone having the time to fully consider the implications.
A paradigm change seems urgently needed here, as places like The Conversation Project are trying to make the early and often discussion of end-of-life wishes more common practice. In the meantime, we’ll just need to hope doctors don’t figure out how to use their spam filters.