“The doctors were considering giving my mother coronary artery bypass grafts plus the two valve replacement surgeries she’d rejected when she had a far better chance of surviving open-heart surgery in decent shape. My mother seems to be heading down the greased chute toward a series of ‘Hail Mary’ surgeries — risky, painful, dangerous and harrowing, each one increasing the chance that her death, when it came, would take place in intensive care.
“The cost to Medicare would probably have been in the $80,000 to $150,000 range, with higher payments if things had not gone well. More than a third of Medicare patients have surgery in their last year of life, nearly a 10th have surgery in the last month of life, and a fifth die in intensive care.”
Scott Burns reviews Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler.