The Battle Over End-of-Life Decisions in Health-Care Reform

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It has been my experience, both as a registered nurse and as a daughter who saw her mother through the difficult last seven years of her life, that it is not doctors who initiate the end-of-life discussions that have become so controversial in the debate over health-care reform ["The Truth About Death Counseling," op-ed, Aug. 21].

Each time my mother entered a hospital or nursing-care facility, my mother and I were approached almost immediately to develop a plan of care that included a do-not-resuscitate order. I would say there was subtle pressure to obtain that order. In every case, it was the social service worker seeking it. That is part of social service workers' jobs, and they don't get paid extra for it.

There was no need to put this measure to reimburse doctors for end-of-life counseling into the House health-care bill unless there was a deeper and more insidious purpose behind it.

LINDA GOULDRUP

Easton, Mass.

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I'm glad Charles Krauthammer's family had so little difficulty in deciding what care his father should receive in his last days [op-ed, Aug. 21]. Too bad Terri Schiavo's family wasn't so agreeable.

Talk about government interference. The debate over what should or should not be done regarding Ms. Schiavo reached even the White House. If she had made her preferences known through end-of-life counseling, perhaps she could have lived out her days with some privacy and dignity.


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