Wednesday, September 9, 2009
If you have a family member who is very sick and it will cost $100,000 to treat the patient with a 1% chance of recovery, would you spend this money?Many people will say "yes". A human life is priceless and cannot be measured in money terms.Think again. Is the human life worth $10 million? Remember, the cost has increased 100 times due to the low chance of survival. Will the person that is saved, really enjoy life in the future? Does it matter that the patient is already elderly? Does it matter that the life that is saved will continue to suffer, due to some continuing disability?Should the $100,000 be used to look after the future well-ebing of other members of the family? Should a family suffer from a lifetime of debt, in their vain effort to save the life?It is difficult for the family to take this type of decision. They should not rely on the advice of the doctor who is treating the patient, as the doctor will have a serious conflict of interest. A large part of the money is paid for the doctor's fees.There is a need for independent, impartial medical advice. The family should be told about the likely cost, the chance of survival, and the other options (including the right to die in dignity and with love from the family). They should be counselled that they are not neglecting their duty by taking a difficult decision to safeguard the financial welfare of the living.