Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: What you need to know about managing death

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 3, 2013 12:07 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, November 4, 2013:

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Millions of people die in this country unexpectedly or can not be cured of an illness or medical condition.  Unfortunately, in many cases, those individuals hadn't planned or made their wishes known to their families about the level of treatment they wanted from doctors in a life threatening situation, finances or even burials.

For many planning isn't an option because they don't talk about death.  There's some irony because in a society that witnesses people dying often, although in a fictional setting on TV or in movies, it is a topic that is almost taboo in some families.

Still others are confronted with circumstances that are difficult to plan for -- a family member who has a terminal illness or is in tremendous pain.  Sometimes that person wants his or her life to end.  Today, doctors don't always continue searching for a cure or prolonging life when death is inevitable.

We'll discuss all those topics on Monday's program.  Dr. Jim Hoefler is a political science professor at Dickinson College and the author of two books that focus on end-of-life issues, including the 1998 book Managing Death.

Dr. Hoefler will appear on Monday's Smart Talk to discuss the medical, legal, ethical, and clinical issues related to end-of-life decisions.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-04 09:37

    An email:

    This is a topic that does need to be discussed more. I as an LPN in a long term care setting see it all the time. Mom or Dad has a stroke and now can not speak and or eat. They now are faced with the discussion that now they have to make the choice of starting a feeding tube. As a nurse my view on a feeding tube is it prolongs the suffering of that patient. I am 23 years old and have told my family meaning my parents and grandparents that if there is no quality of life then I do not want the quantity. Death and end of life care needs to be less taboo.

  • SuzyQ img 2013-11-04 21:12

    This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I am a retired RN. I spent twenty five years of my career working in the ICU. I also spent many years as a volunteer EMT. Nurses deal with this on a daily basis. The professor/author on your show was correct when he said that ongoing, futile treatment will be pursued and conversely, life support will never be withdrawn, as long as there is one family member who disagrees. And yes, this is despite a signed Living Will as well as the verbal consent of the person's spouse or POA. Dr. Hoefler recounted a very common scenario of the prodigal son returning to dispute any end of life plans that his parent had in place. A critical illness brings out the best in a functional family and the worst in a dysfunctional one. I often felt that the adult child who protested the discontinuation of life support the most, was the child who harbored the most guilt about his/her relationship with the parent. As nurses it was demoralizing to put these patients through the agony of living. But, we do so with loving care. Nurses advocate for their patients; especially those who cannot express their wishes. I was always honest with the families who asked questions. I arranged for family meetings which included the physician as well as a chaplain. As with many aspects of medicine, prevention is key. It is so important to make your wishes known, in no uncertain terms, to your family. It is so sad when adult children override the wishes of the patient as well as the spouse.