The Patient’s Story


John Stanton is a 66 year old man admitted to the hospital for acute renal failure and acute myocardial infarction s/p a urosepsis. Patient is stabilized and seen by the cardiology service and they recommend a cardiac catheterisation. But the patient refuses any invasive medical intervention and decides to opt for comfort care. His daughter Karen is supportive. (Click here for Mr. Stantons complete medical history)

This case may remind clinicians of many dying patients for whom they have provided care. Still, there is much we can learn.

Consideration of the very different perspectives of the daughter and the physician, as they struggle to understand Mr. Stanton’s death, is also instructive. For most of us, active dying, a rapidly evolving process just preceding death, will be recognized hours to days earlier; sudden deaths by trauma or illness are the exceptions, not the rule. With each death, families and friends grieve the loss of their loved one. Clinicians come to recognize limitations in their powers to cure illness and must also grieve. We all are reminded of our own mortality.

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