If you have ever read any obituaries, or heard of people who are dying, there is a chance that they had a doctor involved.

That is because doctors often make decisions about care that is not appropriate for patients. These are sometimes referred to as “futile care.”


Infections are diseases caused by organisms called pathogens, which can be viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites or prions. They can invade any organ system in the body and cause symptoms or problems.

Bacterial infections can lead to a serious medical condition called sepsis, which is a life-threatening response of the body to infection. In this condition, the blood pressure drops and the major organs and body systems stop working properly.

People are most at risk for infectious diseases when their immune system is weakened, they have a chronic (long-term) illness or are living in places where certain highly transmissible diseases are common. This includes young children, pregnant women and adults over 60.

Viruses and bacteria are the most common types of pathogens. They are microscopic, single-cell organisms that enter a host, such as a person’s body, and take over the cells in that body. These organisms produce toxins or inflammatory substances that trigger negative immune responses from the body.


Doctors have a responsibility to their patients to provide the highest level of care possible. This means that when they come into contact with a patient, they must diagnose their condition accurately and set up a treatment plan for them.

Incorrect or delayed diagnosis is a common medical error that can have serious consequences for a patient’s health. In fact, one third of all malpractice cases that result in death or permanent disability are due to diagnostic errors, according to research published in Diagnosis.

In addition, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men when it comes to a variety of conditions. These include cancer, infections, and vascular events.

Simple Surgical Errors

Even when doctors follow strict protocols, surgical errors still occur. They can cause serious complications and lead to life-altering injuries.

Medical mistakes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, a problem that is largely preventable. Studies have estimated that up to 200,000 Americans die from medical errors every year, almost double the amount killed in motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents combined.

Often, these mistakes involve the amputation of the wrong limb or removing or replacing the wrong organ in a patient. These are devastating and costly mistakes that should never happen to any patient.

In order to reduce the incidence of these errors, surgeons must pay attention to what they are doing. By ensuring they are following proper procedures, and by communicating with their team of professionals, they can make sure that they do not fall below the standard of care.

Heroic Measures

In a 2011 essay on the website Zocalo Public Square, California doctor Ken Murray made an observation that went viral: most doctors don’t want to die hooked up to machines. They want to be at home, with their families around.

What’s more, he says, most doctors don’t believe in “futile care” – the grueling procedures that can be performed near death. These include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, respirators, kidney dialysis, and organ transplantation.

But these techniques can be expensive and often have limited benefits. They can also prolong death.

Fortunately, doctors can help patients avoid these expensive and often futile end-of-life medical interventions by discussing their preferences with them. They can also document their wishes through a health care directive, or living will.

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