What Doctors Know About How Bad It Is, and Won’t Say

 In Advanced Care Planning, End of Life Care, Feature, Palliative Care, Patient Care

Until a severe stroke sent him to a neurological intensive care unit in December 2014, Ernest Kohn was a particularly vibrant 90-year-old, still teaching a graduate economics class at Queens College.

So his family thought he might rebound. But when his son, Jerry, asked the rotating flotilla of neurologists what was likely to happen — would his father survive? go home? — no one really wanted to address his questions. “When you pushed them, they said, ‘We can’t say anything with surety,’” Mr. Kohn said.

“I kept saying, ‘I’m only asking for your opinion, not a guarantee. I’d really like to know what your 30 years of medical knowledge and experience tell you.’ Most of them would just clam up.”

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