Rio Stairs

Its a Matter of Life or(and) Death

Or is it a matter of life and death. Life and death, life or death. Does healthcare deal with life and death rather than with life or death?

Or what difference does it make? It matters because you are treated differently if life and death are polar opposites or something that is occurring at the same time.

If you are alive and not dying then life is all good and death is all bad. You do anything to stay alive and avoid death. Life is hope and death brings only fear.

Health care acts in a life or death manner when it presents new treatments in an idealistic light—colonoscopies save lives, cancer cell treatment cuts death rate—without mentioning cost, side effect or quality of life.

When the FDA approves a new drug or treatment the manufactures only have to prove that the medication makes a difference on a symptom. The FDA does not ask how much it costs, what are the side effects, or even if something else is better. When they do this they act in a life or death manner.

Life brings hope and an openness to new ideas but death, brings caution and skepticism to not take everything at face value. When we separate life from death we think in stereotypical extremes. When we know we are both dying and living at the same time we have common sense.

If healthcare acted like it was a matter of life and death, they would avoid extremes. We would not talk of “beating cancer at all costs” and realize that hospice is a valid option with a time and place. We would lose our unquestioned acceptance of technology and realize that simple things like walking, fruit, and seat belts save more lives than the latest MRI machine.

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