Among those who died after having care prematurely withdrawn, the researchers estimated one in seven might have gone on to recover some level of functional independence. Nationally, the researchers concluded, as many as 2,300 cardiac arrest patients could be saved each year by waiting at least three days before removing life support. Thousands more could be saved by applying the same rule after someone suffers a stroke, or a traumatic brain injury.
"Without a doubt," Fins said, "we are letting people die in the hospital who might otherwise recover." A single week of treatment at a facility such as TIRR can run in excess of $25,000, and to cover it, insurers demand continuous evidence that a patient is making progress toward regaining functional mobility and self-dependence. It's a struggle shared by nearly all families fortunate enough to get a brain-injured loved one into a rehab hospital, and one Nick's family would grapple with soon enough: Health-benefits administrators expect brains to heal like other body parts, with daily improvements, but that's not how it works in Kothari's unit. |