Sometimes, blogging is just about bringing things together. Take three stories, a pinch of opinion, and voila – you have post.
Three items today tell me I really don’t want to die in the care of the medical profession. Neither do you.
First, there’s the sensational story of a man who dies in his nursing home with a dead rat in his mouth. “Just anecdotal”, you say, “It doesn’t represent the care given to the elderly.”
You’d be wrong. While it is an extreme example of the way North American culture warehouses people with infirmity, things are not much better for the rest of us.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society , 25% of people in nursing homes are medicated with anti-psychotics within a year after taking residence. The implication is that the drugs are used for the convenience of nursing home staff rather than for the health of residents. Another study in the Archives of Internal medicine supports these findings, and determined that nursing homes which prescribe antipsychotic medications most often are also more likely to dispense drugs to residents who don’t need them. The CBC reports on this sloppy health care here and here.
That figure of 25% is significant, and it also approximately tracks the numbers revealed by another study which tell us 20% of people are expected to die in conditions we should consider shameful. The Women’s Bioethics Blog has excellent commentary, and gets the hat tip.
Ready to roll the bones? If you don’t like the odds, your best investment might be in parenting children who can be your patient advocate.