late afternoon last Dec. 31, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, then 97, was alone
at home in Houston in his study preparing a lecture when a sharp pain
ripped through his upper chest and between his shoulder blades, then
moved into his neck.
I really don’t know what to think about this article. A 97 year old – who had apparently both signed a DNR and asked to NOT have an operation – underwent a very intense and risky operation for a serious illness. In one sense, it appeals to the heroic aspects of the best that medical science can offer – especially the technology side. In addition, it shows how good medicine can be when people are 100% focused and committed to a single patient.
On the other hand, however, how frequently do most patients get that sort of attention…or have anywhere near the outcome he had (mostly a good one).
In a truly “fair” system, Dr. Debakey would be dead now. And that would be a real shame for his family, and lots of doctors who were trained by him and literally worshipped him (including my grandfather). But we don’t see the opportunity costs…we don’t know who wasn’t served by the hospital because of all this. We like to think that there weren’t any consequences, but we know better, don’t we?
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