We should never really withdraw care.
This was a quote from a fabulous talk I went to today about communication.
It is true.
In medicine, we often say things like “withdrawal of care” and mean things like withdrawing life support or stopping “extreme” or “heroic” measures. Sometimes it is even about things like stopping active treatment for incurable disease.
Taking those things out of the picture does not equate not doing appropriate supportive care. Everyone needs supportive care. Always. Just in different ways.
But, if you are a family member, it can sound like you are taking everything away.
Like the health care professionals don’t care. Like hope is gone. Like they are being left to die.
That is where this quote came in. How the language we use can really portray the wrong message. Context is everything, but really, we need to try to keep context out and keep things clear.
And no matter what, we should still care. It is in the term healthcare. It just makes sense to care in medicine. Medicine is a caring profession. Because sometimes caring is all you can do.
Care is always in the equation. The definition of care is what can change.
Sometimes the most caring thing you can do is to stop intervening beyond basic symptom management and emotional support.
It isn’t giving up, it isn’t even always changing focus. It is about context. It is about our humanness. It is about care at the root of the word.
Just some food for thought.