Limits to Life-Sustaining Treatment

4. Home

This is where most folks say they would prefer to die - and many hospice services attempt to make this possible by supporting family caregivers through home health services, telemedicine, etc.

The initial decision likely to be made at home is not to seek help by refraining from calling 911 if the patient stops breathing. This can be difficult for family members to do - no matter how thoroughly it has been discussed beforehand.

In Tennessee, as in many jurisdictions, there is now legal support for a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order that frees paramedics from having to attempt resuscitation even if they are called. So even if the family does call 911, the paramedics are permitted to provide emotional support to the family and then to remove the body from the home.

The decision to be cared for at home incorporates a decision not to make available the life-support equipment that would be available in the hospital.

  • How (if at all) does the decision for home care differ from a decision to withhold those forms of support?
  • How (if at all) is it different from keeping the patient in the hospital but refusing transfer to the Intensive Care Unit - or refusing intubation or other specific measure?

Created by Glenn C. Graber
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