The end of life is inevitable – and when the time comes, surveys suggest that 80 percent of Americans would prefer to die at home. In spite of this, “60 percent end up dying in a hospital,” says ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. The Netflix documentary “Extremis” looks at the reality of dying in America.
Filmmaker Dan Krauss and Palliative Care Specialist Dr. Jessica Zitter join The Doctors to discuss the film and the hard choices dying patients and their families face. “We are so uncomfortable talking about end-of-life care in this country,” Dr. Stork says.
The documentary profiles several families as they make choices for their dying relatives. One family chose to keep a beloved mother on life-support for five or six months, while another patient's life-support was removed and she was allowed to die.
“Has it changed how you approach death in your own life?” Dr. Stork asks Dan. “I’m still very uncomfortable with the topic!” Dan replies. He says it’s a hard subject to bring up, “But when it comes time to make a decision, we wish we’d had that conversation prior.”
Dr. Stork says that as an ER physician, he’s often seen patients die in the hospital who wanted very much to die at home. Dr. Zitter likens discussing end-of-life wishes to sex education – both used to be taboo. But refusing to discuss death before a crisis occurs means that people may suffer needlessly because their families don’t understand their wishes. To learn more, check out Dr. Jessica Zitter's book "Extreme Measures."