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J R Soc Med. 2004 November; 97(11): 556.
PMCID: PMC1079660

Home or hospital: choices at the end of life

I wonder whether Barbara Gomes and Irene Higginson, who wrote the excellent editorial on place of death (September 2004 JRSM1), would consider that a poll of RSM Fellows might provide useful data? I have seen only two formal papers, both from the USA, regarding the medical technology health workers would want for themselves at the end of life. One disclosed that the great majority of doctors in North Carolina would refuse cardiopulmonary resuscitation and tube feeding if terminally ill.2 The other concluded that physicians and nurses who have extensive exposure to hospitals and sick patients are unlikely to wish aggressive treatment if they become terminally ill, demented, or in a persistent vegetative state.3

I suspect that most British health professionals would be similarly reluctant to have much medical technology applied to them at the end of life, and, by what seems an obvious extension, would rather die at home than in hospital.

Personally, if I do not die suddenly, I want to die at home, in very familiar surroundings, with my beloved cat and partner next to me, and with the music of Shirley Bassey as loud as possible.


1. Gomes B, Higginson I. Home or hospital? Choices at the end of life. J R Soc Med 2004;97: 413–14 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Brunetti L, Carperos S, Westlund R. Physicians’ attitudes towards living wills and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. J Gen Intern Med 1991;6: 323–9 [PubMed]
3. Gillick M, Hesse K, Mazzapica N. Medical technology at the end of life—what would physicians and nurses want for themselves? Arch Intern Med 1993;153: 2542–7 [PubMed]

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