ST. LOUIS, MO – Palliative care, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families… affirms life and regards dying as normal process… [and] intends neither to hasten or postpone death…” No wonder everyone finds it ironic that every member of the Washington University Medical Center palliative care team is a full code.
“Oh, come on, don’t give us that funny look,” palliative care physician Julie Morissette told Gomerblog before we could even ask a question. “You know the old adage: Doctors make the worst patients. And guess what? I’m a doctor. I don’t practice what I preach. Full code, baby! FULL FREAKING CODE!”
“Nurse practitioners don’t make great patients either,” chimed in Ray Little, a nurse practitioner on the palliative care team who overheard our conversation. “I’m also full code! And might I add, just like Julie here, I have no advance directives and definitely haven’t picked a medical power of attorney.” Morissette patted Little on the back, clearly very proud.
Moments later while we had stepped away, we overheard Little said out loud towards Morissette “medical power of attorney” and the entire palliative care team started to burst out in laughter. Morissette responded by saying “hospice,” and the roars grew even louder. In fact, it was deafening.
Alanis Pill, the palliative care social worker on the team, said that she plans to be the “fullest code possible” until the day she dies, but that she technically will never die since she doesn’t plan to be extubated or pulled off life support ever. EVER. “What,” she added, “do you think I’m crazy or something?”
In other equally shocking news, it appears that entire Departments of Hematology/Oncology at academic hospital systems across the country have made themselves DNR/DNI. Gomerblog will continue to investigate.