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Hospital Promises to "Cheat Death"

Posted Apr 06 2013 9:28pm
On Friday, North Carolina's CaroMont Health unveiled a new campaign "To Give Every Man, Woman and Child In Gaston County Every Opportunity To Cheat Death."  The announcement ended with this toast: "May you never lie, steal or cheat.  But if you must lie, lie with the one you love. If you must steal, steal kisses.  If you must cheat, cheat death."

I have blogged before (e.g.  here ) about hospitals that promise miracles.  Such representations, even more than the inaccurately-high CPR success rate portrayed on broadcast shows, lead families to have unrealistically high expectations. It is hard to recommend palliative, rather than curative care, after one has already promised a miracle. And surrogate belief in miracles continues to be one of the most significant causes of intractable futility disputes.

But to be fair, CaroMont Health's tag line is focused more on its efforts to promote public health than on its hospital care.  "We are not saying we can stop death.  What we are saying is that if you take an active part in your own health—being more active, making better nutritional choices, stop smoking—you can live a longer, healthier and ultimately happier life."  This is not just appropriate but commendable. Nevertheless, this could be misunderstood by hospital and ICU patients as applying to them.
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