I really enjoyed this article—if "enjoyed" is the right word. I like the way it incorporates questions to consider asking the family, and its reference to George Bernard Shaw's take on communication ("The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred").
I also appreciate the reference to Morgenstern's description of "multiconsultism," which is exactly what I experienced when my father was in the ICU for 30 days, dying. I asked several nurses and doctors about his prognosis and received responses like "I'm the tube doc; you need to ask the lung guy," or "Hmm, hard to say." I eventually learned that he wasn't likely to recover when I asked, "How many patients in his condition have you seen recover?" and was told, by an ICU nurse, "None. He's already lived longer than anyone else I've cared for with this condition in 13 years."
I hope those who benefit from this article's sensitive and thoughtful insight can help many others to have better deaths.
Donna L. Schuurman, EdD, FT
Executive Director The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families Portland, OR© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.