Personal Views

A role for advocacy in general medicine

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7186.819 (Published 20 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:819
  1. S M Hopkins, consultant psychiatrist.
  1. Diss, Norfolk

    My 93 year old mother announced her forthcoming death with equanimity and surprising accuracy, as she told a friend, “Don't bother coming next week, dear; I won't be here.”

    Two days later she had a severe stroke which robbed her of speech and most movement, but not her intellect. Despite her clearly indicated wish to remain in the rest home and the home's willingness to care for her, the locum insisted that she be admitted to the geriatric ward of the general hospital. For the next two weeks she suffered all that modern medicine could throw at her in the face of a clearly terminal prognosis and her admittedly incoherent protests. It was her worst nightmare come true. When I visited, tears trickled down her cheeks, she grasped my hand with her one good hand, and clearly conveyed her desperate wish for the drips and tablets to stop, and for the daily lifting out of bed to sit slumped in a …

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