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.
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Shapiro MF. The Last Breath—Enriching End-of-Life Moments. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(7):865–866. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.1451
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