Should I discover tomorrow that I have advanced, life-threatening cancer, I won’t go rushing to the doctors for a heavily invasive course of medical treatment. No, I will shut up my London surgery, head to my home in Norfolk, stock up on gin and tonic and have a jolly good time until I meet my end.
Like most doctors, I understand that much of the care we offer patients who have serious, life-threatening illnesses is ultimately futile.
Worse, it can involve many months of gruelling treatments that might possibly extend the length of one’s life, but do nothing for its quality.
But while we give that care to patients, the vast majority of doctors I know would not want this for themselves. Yet this fact has long been taboo in the medical world. The silence has been shattered by Ken Murray, professor of family medicine at the University of Southern California.