living your best to the end

Dying in the operating room? Rarely happens.

Dying after the operating room is a different story. “People worry about ‘dying poorly’, so one of the reasons for agreeing to surgery is the mistaken belief they’ll likely die – peacefully – in the Operating Room. This rarely happens.” Dr Gretchen Schwarze To understand what can happen even if the surgery or operation is successful, Palliative doctor, Toby Campbell and Surgeon, Gretchen Schwarze feel stories are necessary to paint a picture for ‘consent’.               To illustrate, Dr Schwarze tells this story: “She’s in her late 70’s, with chronic kidney failure and COPD. She’s making it a home with lots of support – but just barely. Now she has an aneurysm, that’s likely going to lead to a medical crisis. Should she have surgery for the aneurysm to prevent the medical crisis?” Using statistics to describe success or failure, her family’s told: 50% chance of not surviving surgery 60% going to need dialysis for renal failure 80% chance going to need ventilator (breathing machine) What the family hears is: 50% chance of survival 40% chance of NOT needing dialysis 20% chance of NOT needing “So, they went for the surgery, took about 8 hours, overall doing well, as best as could be hoped for. When her family came to see her in the ICU, you can imagine what they saw. She was puffy with a breathing tube, with lines and wires and machines. They said, ‘this is not what she would have wanted’ and asked the team to withdraw all supports.” We’ve been so good with innovating in so many areas, communication is...