...The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study
was conducted based on the medical histories and decisions of a voluntary group of older physicians who graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine classes of 1948 through 1964. According to the study, 65% of the surveyed doctors had written an advance directive, whereas only about 20% of the public does so. Approximately 90% of the physicians responded that they would not want CPR if they were in a chronic coma, whereas only about 25% of the public gives the same answer.
So why do doctors die differently?
Every day, doctors see the effect of what they call “futile care.” They see patients languishing in the ICU, attached to ventilators, tube feeds, and other devices keeping them alive. On the other hand, many patients only see what is on TV.
A 1996 study found that CPR showed on television was successful 75%
of the time and that 65% of the patients went home. On the other hand, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR in Japan found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month and of those, only about 3% led normal lives post-code
. Approximately 3% were in a vegetative state, and about 2% were alive with a “poor” outcome. And a 2010 study looked at terminal patients who did not want CPR but got it anyway. Of the 69 patients studied, eight regained a pulse, but, within 48 hours, all were dead.
Physicians may also make different recommendations for their patients than they would follow themselves. Physicians often feel that failing to save a patient shows weakness and professional inadequacy. This sentiment does not necessarily carry over to saving themselves...