Friday, April 3, 2009

Four Things About A Good Death

The LA Times published an article in Mid-March on the relationship between the level of medical treatment received and faith in God. The author of the article tries to be balanced in her presentation, but the larger question of how doctors and other health care workers deal with issues of faith and medical care remains open.

The article makes four main points.
  • Faith in a higher power can often lead to more aggressive treatment than is medically warranted, research is beginning to show.
  • But the more aggressive care you get, the worse your quality of life in that last week.
  • To very religious patients, avoiding pain and suffering may not be the priority.
  • Some healthcare providers are now reconsidering what it means to have a "good death."
Given the fact that religious patients aren't going to become a scarce resource any time soon, this article highlights the need for doctors, health care workers, and patients ALL to retain the right of conscience in medical and ethical matters.

The healing arts should be about caring for a person, not just treating a body or disease. Catholics in particular have a long tradition of praying for a good death.

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