Dying Patient’s Rights

Dr. Heidi Horsley of the Open to Hope Foundation interviews Dr. Helen Chapple regarding how you can care for your loved one who’s in a hospital or hospice during their end of life time. She’s an anthropologist and nurse committed to dying patient’s rights. Dr. Chapple wrote No Place for Dying: Hospitals and the Ideology of Rescue based on her own professional experience and finding that knowing how to care for a loved one at the end of their life is far from innate. However, there are few resources available for caregivers in this position.

As a nurse at the bedside, her interest was piqued. How is dying not happening properly in a hospital? It’s become her personal quest, and she still wonders why more people don’t find hospice. People shouldn’t be dying in a hospital when they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. There are “first class citizens” in hospitals—those that will be getting better. They can be rescued. Those who are facing end of life are treated as second class citizens according to Dr. Chapple.

Priorities in the Hospital

When someone crosses over the threshold from “save-able” to a dying patient, there’s a big shift in how treatment happens. Suddenly the hospital doesn’t see them as eligible for first class rescue care. Rescue technology is always advancing, but even in the US where care is seen as exceptional there are challenges. Tech can be used here because we’re an innovative culture, but what about caretaking?

Dr. Chapple says that if someone collapses, we’ll pour everything into it. However, if someone you know is in a hospital, you can advocate for them. Pursue palliative care, or look into a hospice. They may not be able to advocate for themselves.

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