by Marcia Glass, MD
“I sometimes notice ‘DNR’ on my intern’s to-do list during rounds. It usually means his resident asked why this patient, in spite of being so debilitated from his end-stage cancer, or his dementia, or his heart failure, was still full code. The patient should be made DNR instead, but doing so involves a difficult conversation with sick patients or desperate relatives, sometimes over hours, sometimes over days. Hence, the DNR on the to-do list and the knowing looks from my team. ‘How’s the family?’ ‘Do they get it?’ ‘Are they reasonable?’ Any possibility of a peaceful death depends on my medical team’s ability to make people we hardly know trust us and then change their minds.
“Mrs. J. was different. In her eighties, she came to our hospital … ”