Dying Death And After

How I'd like to be treated if I was terminally ill

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7021.1690 (Published 23 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1690
  1. Karen E Groves, medical directora
  1. aQueenscourt Hospice, Southport, Merseyside PR8 6RE

    First of all, I'd like a quick diagnosis.

    I'd like to know that my lump or bump would be removed quickly, in its entirety, before I've had time to fiddle with it so much that I blame myself for it metastasising or before a fine needle aspiration has aspirated all the normal cells, left the “baddies” laughing, and lulled me into a false sense of security.

    I would wish to be told the outcome and prognosis by a doctor who will neither have me dead and buried before the diagnostic ink has dried on the paper, nor give me false reassurance and try to treat my untreatable illness until I haven't the strength to endure the attempt. Then I would like to hear that prognosis in terms of months rather than years, weeks rather than months, or even days rather than weeks, instead of as an absolute six weeks or six months (even as an approximation) so that I don't start ticking the days off on the calendar and then jump up and down for joy when I realise I've passed my “sell by date” and that therefore they must have been wrong and really I'm ok.

    I would want to be able to choose a consultant who would sit on my bed, without his (or her) entourage, unafraid of what I might ask him and be prepared to explain to me, repeatedly, in words of one syllable, what I cannot grasp—and then do it all over again in one week or two weeks or one month later with a gentle consistency and sensitive honesty that leaves me in no doubt as to the truth of the …

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