When I am dying, I am quite sure that the central issues for me will not be whether I am put on a ventilator, whether CPR is attempted when my heart stops, or whether I receive artificial feeding. Although each of these could be important, each will almost certainly be quite peripheral. Rather, my central concerns will be how to face my death, how to bring my life to a close, and how best to help my family go on without me. A ventilator will not help me do these things-not unless all I need is a little more time to get the job done.
Unfortunately, however, bioethics has succumbed to the agendas of physicians. Physicians face ethical concerns about treatment decisions-when to offer, withhold, and withdraw various treatments-and treatment decisions have been the focus of bioethics as well. But the issues that most trouble patients and their…
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