Thursday, April 16, 2009
Everyday families locally, across the country and around the world, are faced with making difficult health care decisions on behalf of a loved one. Many make those tough choices with little or no advanced planning or conversation with loved ones. To coincide with the 2nd Annual National Health Care Decisions Day, health care providers, medical ethicists, social workers and others gathered in Pittsburgh today for a daylong conference to call attention to the importance of making prudent, ethical decisions based on prior conversations with a loved one. Dr Gerard Magill, professor of Health care Ethics at Duquesne University, says technology can extend the process of dying but it's important to be able to respect human life "by enabling one another to die well....and that is wonderful." Magill acknowledges that families have concerns about frightening loved ones when they broach the subject of death "but the more we can gently and gracefully discuss how we want to encounter the moment of passing, the better." Magill says our culture is so vibrant that we have a tendency to run from death even though we know we will die someday, and that makes it difficult for a family to discuss death. Magill says the conference was titled "Respect and Grace in Decision Making at the End of Life"....."respecting the patient, a graceful passing where love is fostered and kindness is celebrated."