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End-Of-Life Care Needs An Overhaul47:07Download

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A bipartisan report says medical care at the end of life needs a big overhaul.  One bioethicist says, "After 75, no major interventions. Let me go."

Cindy Cook holds a photo of her mother, former Rep. Alice Cook Bassett, at her home in Calais, Vt., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Cook took care of her mother in December when she decided to stop eating and drinking to put an end to her life. (AP)
Cindy Cook holds a photo of her mother, former Rep. Alice Cook Bassett, at her home in Calais, Vt., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Cook took care of her mother in December when she decided to stop eating and drinking to put an end to her life. (AP)

The way we die in America can be heartbreaking in itself.  Off in the hospital.  Not at home.  Surrounded by strangers, tubes and beepers.  A big report out last week says there has to be, there is, a better way.  But that we’ll have to overhaul much of our system for end-of-life care to get there.  It calls for a way of American death that is more informed, more humane, and – by the way – less expensive.  We’ll hear those findings today, and talk to Rahm Emanuel’s brother Zeke, who says he wants to go at 75.  That gets political.  This hour On Point:  How we die – and maybe, when.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Walker, co-chair of the Institute of Medicine's committee on aging. Former Comptroller General of the United States. @DeficitRanger)

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Author of "Reinventing American Health Care" and "The Ends of Human Life."

From Tom's Reading List

Institute of Medicine: Dying In America — "As much as people may want and expect to be in control of decisions about their own care throughout their lives, numerous factors can work against realizing that desire. Many people nearing the end of of life are not physically or cognitively able to make their own care decisions."

The Atlantic: Why I Hope to Die at 75 — "Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us."

Associated Press: Americans Endure Unwanted Care Near Death — "Americans suffer needless discomfort and undergo unwanted and costly care as they die, in part because of a medical system ruled by 'perverse incentives' for aggressive care and not enough conversation about what people want, according to a report released Wednesday."

This program aired on September 23, 2014.

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