In November 2011, Ken Murray, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at USC, wrote an essay entitled "How Doctors Die," telling stories of medical professionals who had insisted that their colleagues permit them a peaceful end rather than a hell of futile, painful interventions. The piece was beautiful, provocative, and wise, but it was also mostly anecdotal. In a new article, Murray went digging for the data:

One of the clearest indicators we have is a survey from Johns Hopkins University. It’s called the Johns Hopkins Precursors Study, and it’s based on the medical histories and decisions of students from the School of Medicine classes of 1948 through 1964 who volunteered to be part of the survey. According to the study, 65 percent of the doctors (or former medical students) had created an advance directive, i.e. a set of legal documents spelling out in advance what sort of end-of-life care they would like. Only about 20 percent of the public does this. When asked whether they would want cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if they were in a chronic coma, about 90 percent of the Johns Hopkins doctors said no. Only about 25 percent of the public gives the same answer.

Much more here.