They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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What's In A Word

On Monday driving home there was a commentary on NPR's All Things Considered and the woman was telling the tale of a terminal patient who didn't want to sign a DNR. Yet they clearly didn't want to be hooked up to a ventilator. One thing about being a science geek and a TV junkie is that you learn a lot of medical jargon watching some of the doctoring shows. So I instantly understood that a DNR is a "Do Not Resuscitate" order. I also understood that lots of people don't want to talk about such things, even when they've reached that point in their life when they need to think about it. Hell, bad things can happen out of the blue at any time, so really everyone should have a thought about whether "heroic measures" should be used to try to keep their shell alive, but the young are too indestructible and the middle-aged are too squeamish.

An Aside

Last night on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit they were trying to make the case real hard about signing the damned organ donation forms and marking your driver's license, for those states where that makes sense. Again, there's another personal decision which is hard to address unless you live in a family which has been directly impacted with the need for (and the shortage of) organs to transplant.

/An Aside

One of the problems with trying to figure out the whole DNR business is that it is easily misunderstood. "Hey, I want some level of treatment," a guy says. "I don't want the ER staff to just coast or give up or not even start." But what's sufficient care? The recent entrance of politics into the Terri Schiavo case certainly doesn't help define where the boundaries are between minimal and sufficient versus extraordinary lies.

Oh, That Makes Much More Sense

What the commentator on NPR was saying, is that people are too turned off by the word NOT in "Do Not Resuscitate". Instead of being negative, she suggested to the patient that what he wanted was an AND -- "Allow Natural Death."

And indeed, he said, "Yeah! That's what I want."

An AND is just another acronym which does the same thing medically and legally as a DNR -- it's the same thing -- as I understand it. But it's a positive instead of a negative. It allows basic medical care for what is eminently treatable. And when it's time to go, you make the patient comfortable and let the natural death happen.

So Shut Up Already and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Okay, so I haven't done a DNR, I don't have a durable power of attorney drafted and I probably haven't done an organ donor thingie on my most recent license. You can call me a schmuck if you'd like -- I can take it.

My point, and why I was excited about this enough to waste some minutes typing this blog entry, is that I think a lot of people spend a lot of time banging their heads against the walls, fighting things which maybe might be handled a whole lot easier if we would just figure out how to phrase it in a positive fashion. I'm not talking about sugarcoating things or lying or spinning the truth as in the way of the politicians. No, what I mean is that people in a field tend to use jargon in a particular way and it all seems perfectly understandable to them. But the words or phrases may just not be communicating it in the right way - or with the right urgency -- to the general public.

Methinks There Is A Great Deal Of Missed Communications About

MDOT **, the Michigan Department of Transportation, uses a formula to set some speed zones based on the 85th percentile of the vehicles driving by. So what's wrong with a "Speed Limit", when by design at least 15% of vehicles are exceeding said limit?

Anyone got an idea for a better term?

Dr. Phil

** - Saw the tail end of an MDOT blurb on TV last night, talking about the first painted centerline on a highway in the U.S. in Marquette MI, 1917. You can laugh, but every time I see film of early highways with cars on them, the lanes look so narrow and the cars pass so close...

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