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Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End-Of-Life Discussions

(originally published by NPR on JULY 06, 2015)

Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she felt performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients.

It looks nothing like what we see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal.

“I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life,” she says. “I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, goodbye.’ Because I knew that it very likely not going to be successful. It just seemed a terrible way to end someone’s life.”

Gorlitsky now teaches medicine at the University of Southern California and says these early clinical experiences have stayed with her.

Gorlitsky wants something different for herself and for her loved ones. And most other doctors do too: A Stanford University study shows almost 90 percent of doctors would forgo resuscitation and aggressive treatment if facing a terminal illness. Read the rest of the story here.

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