On Being a Patient: Michael's Testimonial

“As I was losing control of my body because of my ALS, this decision was the one last element of control I had over my life. For that to be taken away fills me with great anxiety, because now I do not know how this is going to play out.”

Use this essay to:

  • Listen to an audio recording of the testimonial, read by Dr. Michael LaCombe.
  • Consider whether you have ever talked to patients with terminal illnesses about their concerns regarding their eventual death. What did you learn?
  • Go to the bedside! Are there patients who would be willing to discuss their thoughts about dying with your team, and perhaps would even appreciate it?
  • Do you believe that patients with terminal illnesses should have the option of determining when their lives will end?
  • Do you believe that physicians should be allowed to assist patients who wish to determine the timing of their death?
  • Why does the author emphasize in the opening paragraph that the word “option” is very important? Why might such an option be important to a patient even if she or he does not exercise it?

Annals of Internal Medicine is the premier internal medicine academic journal published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world.

Back to the October 2018 issue of ACP IMpact