Is Dying at Home Overrated?

September 5, 2019

A palliative care physician struggles with the complex realities of dying at home, and the unintended consequences of making it a societal priority

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Dr. Jen Gunter writes “When he was born, my husband at the time and I knew he couldn’t survive. That doesn’t make me a murderer.”

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Dying cannot be understood properly, or responded to well, without recourse to the connections between the dying experience and the larger social structures that make up a social and civic community

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In the first issue of the Humanitarian Health Digest, Paul Spiegel stresses the need to highlight the lack of palliative care in humanitarian emergencies. Both refugees and nationals with life-limiting illnesses need more dignified, cost-effective care, he argues

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Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets. There’s often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths

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Our Katherine Heinze, Heidi Holtz and Cynda Rushton write, “Palliative care (PC) clinicians are faced with ever-expanding pressures, which can make it difficult to fulfill their duties to self and others and lead to moral distress.”

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Ethicists can step in. It’s not uncommon for nursing staff to report moral distress after administering palliative sedation to a patient who dies shortly afterward. With comments from our Cynda Rushton

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