Review shows elderly subjected to futile end-of-life treatment
More than a third of elderly patients hospitalised at the end of their life received invasive and potentially harmful medical treatments, showed the largest international systematic review of the issue published on Monday. The review of 38 studies from ten countries found widespread use of invasive treatments and tests including surgeries, chemotherapies, diagnostic imaging, transfusions, admissions to intensive care and in some cases CPR on patients with ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders.
Professor Ken Hillman is one of Australia’s most outspoken critics of unnecessary, invasive and often harmful treatments among elderly patients in their final months of life. But when his own mother neared death, he became one of the many Australians clinging to medical intervention to keep their loved one alive. “We got caught on the conveyor belt of treatment: a little bit here, and a little bit there….I wanted to do the best for my mother and trusted the system. It’s full of well-meaning people,” he said.