Part 3: A Good Death

Case continues: (A good death):

It takes teamwork to take care of a complex patient like Mr. Benton with doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, the other therapists working together. In order to get his suffering under control, one needs to focus on the patient and the family together.

Mr. Benton was alone in the hospital since his wife was an airline pilot on international routes. She was usually in town for 3 days and away for 4 days.

Over the next 2 days the Palliative Care team members made a concerted effort to help Mr. Benton. His wife was contacted and asked to come and to arrange for his children to come. A family meeting was held with the team who educated the patient and his family about his advanced illness. The patient was moved to the palliative care unit and his wife was allowed to stay with him in his hospital room (without the restriction of hospital visiting hours).

Two days later, during rounds, the patient told Dr. Scott, “I couldn’t imagine the sense of closeness I’ve had these past few days. I don’t want it to end.”

Thus, despite excellent physical symptom control, the patient was in significant distress which was alleviated when his emotional, social and spiritual needs were identified and attended. He had found new meaning in his life.

He was discharged home on Medicare Home Hospice and his wife was able to take time from work to be with him. James Benton surprised all his doctors by living for two more months with good quality of life and passed away peacefully in his home with his wife by his side.

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