I was getting ready to go to work when my sister called from Winnipeg. “Mom is dying,” she said. Our mother was 90 years old and had experienced a stepwise decline over several months after an episode of urosepsis, complicated by recurring episodes of aspiration pneumonia, Clostridium difficile diarrhea, and a pelvic fracture. She became less interactive with each complication. She had been clear in her instructions to us that she did not want to be kept alive if she was unable to interact meaningfully with those around her. We communicated to her clinicians that she was not to be resuscitated in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest. A few weeks after that, we moved her to a skilled nursing facility, understanding that it was inevitable that she would have further episodes of aspiration. A week later, she developed a fever and was given oral antibiotics for several days. A week after completing the course of antibiotics, she developed a fever again, so the antibiotics were restarted.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Shapiro MF. The Last Breath—Enriching End-of-Life Moments. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(7):865–866. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.1451
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: