RadioLab: The Bitter End

How do doctors think about death? Among many other questions, The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study asked doctors about their wishes regarding the use of a range of medical procedures in the event that they have incurable and long-term brain damage. Interventions like dialysis, major surgery, CPR, antibiotics, and IV hydration, and pain medication. 

In an informal survey done for this podcast, people selected many of these interventions. Doctors, on the other hand, select almost none of them. Listen to find out why doctors view life, death and the interventions that sometimes come between them,  differently than the average person. 

A few days after this RadioLab short appeared, Radiolab host Jad Abumrad and producer Sean Cole talked with Brian Lehrer about what they learned while creating this show. Their discussion can be heard below. 

Clearly, all fear has an element of resistance and a leaning away from the moment. Its dynamic is not unlike that of strong desire except that fear leans backward into the last safe moment while desire leans forward toward the next possibility of satisfaction. Each lacks presence.
—Stephen Levine