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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We gave our own orders: Dignity in the hospital

Kathleen Kalt's story:

Patients have no obligation to the "health-care community." In fact, more patients need to know that they do not have to comply with every doctor’s request.

My daughter had leukemia at age 10 and clear-cell sarcoma at 17. She was treated by outstanding doctors, but we all knew she would not survive the second cancer. When she had to be admitted to a major teaching hospital for surgery, it seemed she was on all the grand rounds; everyone wanted to see this rare case and hear her medical history. We didn't think she needed to relive constantly the worst moments of her life. She needed dignity and control. We gave our own orders: "No one will touch her except her primary doctors. She won't answer any more questions. Read her chart for yourself." After seven years dealing with the medical establishment, we knew that the best patients were their own advocates.

Advice to parents:
To preserve your child's dignity, you can give your own orders to guide the learning of interns and residents in the teaching hospital.

Read another of our stories about a death with dignity.

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