Panel Sponsored by Duquesne, Pitt, UPMC Discusses End-of-Life Medical Ethics

By Togneri, Chris | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Panel Sponsored by Duquesne, Pitt, UPMC Discusses End-of-Life Medical Ethics


Togneri, Chris, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Medical technologies that help people live longer also can lengthen the "dying process" for people who never wanted such treatment, said medical ethicists gathered Thursday for a conference at UPMC Mercy.

That's why everyone -- young and old -- should prepare advance directives listing what kind of life-sustaining treatments they might want, participants said during the Uptown event.

"As a society, as families, as individuals, we should be practicing the art of informing our loved ones how we want to go," said Gerard Magill, a professor in Duquesne University 's Center for Healthcare Ethics. "We also should be asking each other, 'How do you want to go?'"

Duquesne, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Mercy co- sponsored the conference -- titled "Respect and Grace in Decision- Making at the End of Life" -- to mark National Healthcare Decisions Day.

National Healthcare Decisions Day aims to teach health-care professionals, social workers, religious leaders and others about advanced-care planning.

Most people want to die peacefully -- at home and in their sleep, said Sister Judy Laffey, a registered nurse and director of pastoral care at Caritas Christi, the Sisters of Charity's motherhouse in Greensburg.

In fact, 90 percent of Americans die from protracted illnesses -- often in hospitals and hooked up to machines, Laffey said. …

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