Coda ClinicalCritical CareEthics in HealthcareIntensive CareSMACCThe Ethics of Death

The Ethics of Death by Alex Psirides

Dying is not very sexy, but sometimes, dying is the right thing to do. We get one shot, there is no second chance.

Dr Alex Psirides discusses death from a patient, family, doctor and economist perspective.

Evidently, 400 years ago, death was everywhere. Everyone was exposed to dying and people prepared for their death. Things have changed thanks to the intervention of the medical profession. Resuscitation teams, pain killers and the concept of “dying in comfort” have altered the trajectory of dying, leading to a mystique surrounding the concept.

Dr Psirides argues that death has replaced sex as the new taboo – and as a result, we have a society removed from death. This has led to poor choices in medical interventions towards the end of life.

Furthermore, Inappropriate decisions made by medical teams are likely to delay death, decrease quality of life and cost money, all without changing the ultimate outcome… death. This sparks a discussion around a new perspective on “doing everything”. Medical Intensivists can be bad at knowing the outcomes of their patients. They also overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harms of the interventions they prescribe.

Alex discusses the affect that “doing everything” has on families. Families of patients that had received more life sustaining treatments towards the end of life had higher rates of depression following the death.

Finally, the financial cost of extending lives is explained. Alex questions the efficacy of spending greatly to advance life trivially. Underpinning these hard decisions around death is the enormous importance of early discussions of death and dying with patients and their families. Is doing everything the best thing doctors, families and society can do for patients? Alex asks you to give patients the death you would want and make dying great again.

Tune in to a discussion on The Ethics of Death by Alex Psirides.

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Alex Psirides

Intensivist & optimistic dystopian. Emigrant son of an immigrant. Father of daughters.