Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

How Doctors Die

DoctorsOne would expect medical professionals to obtain treatment when faced with a mental illness. However, surprisingly, medical professionals often don't seek treatment. 

Charlie, a respected orthopedist, found a lump in his stomach, which he had a surgeon check out. The lump turned out to be pancreatic cancer. The surgeon was one of the best in the country and had invented a new procedure for pancreatic cancer that could "triple a patient's five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life." 

Not only was Charlie not interested in the new procedure, but he closed his practiced and "never set foot in a hospital again." Charlie spent the rest of his life spending time with family. He never received chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. 

Doctors spend a lot of time saving lives, but they can die like the rest of us. As experts, doctors are well aware of what is going to happen to them, and of course they do not want to die. 

It is their knowledge of modern medicine and its limits that keep them from receiving treatment for terminal illnesses. Many medical professionals would rather go gently than to live through the pain and side effects that are often a part of treatment and "heroic measures." 

Thus, many doctors would rather suffer naturally and not exacerbate this suffering with treatments and surgeries. 

See Ken Murray, M.D., How Doctors Die, The Saturday Evening Post: Caregiving, March 6, 2013. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2021/04/how-doctors-die.html

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