The High Costs of Chasing Immortality
Americans undoubtedly cherish the science of medicine, whether it be “moonshots” to cure fatal diseases, research to augment our genetic code, or the development of new “breakthrough” drugs for debilitating conditions.
But how good are we at separating the financial considerations and “return on investment” from the human factors involved in living with incurable diseases and chronic conditions? What is the actual cost – in terms of patients’ lives? What is the value of a day, a week, a month of additional life? Who gets to decide? Who pays? Does every life get valued the same? Should it?
This brief but thoughtful inquiry into the personal and societal questions that we face will attempt to narrow the lens of focus to the human considerations involved in prolonging life for those with life-limiting conditions.
– How should individual responsibilities in managing care be measured?
– If we are going to shift from a world that pays for services based on their availability to one that measures “success” in terms of outcomes – whose outcomes are we adopting?
Patient-centered care is designed to give patients a voice – not only in deciding how important it is to pursue a critical path but in deciding what even the goals of care and treatment ought to be. In doing so, we open ourselves up to a whole new set of questions and a shift from the traditional paternalistic approach where “doctor knows best.”
The whys and wherefores of patient and proxy choices at the edge of life may just give us a peek into how valuing patients decisions could change the dialogue about outcomes and goals of care more generally.
What we may find in exploring our mortal natures is a different kind of answer – or certainly a different set of questions that need to be answered rather than the elusive and costly pursuit of immortality.
John G. Carney, MEd, President and CEO of the Center, will present a free lecture on “The High Costs of Chasing Immortality” at the Center’s 2017 Bioethics Lecture Series on January 19, 2017, 4:30 to 5:30 pm CST, in person at the Kauffman Conference Center in Kansas City and on Facebook Live. To attend in person, please RSVP to email@example.com.