„Michael de Ridder, the head of the emergency ward at a Berlin hospital and author of a new book on dying, discusses how modern medical advances are making death more complicated for patients with little hope of living. His book makes a plea for doctors to allow people to die with greater dignity.
De Ridder:In my field in particular, I see how the limits of life are constantly expanding, without regard for the well-being or will of the patient. In some emergency rooms, half of all admissions now come from nursing homes. If someone who is chronically ill has a heart attack or gets pneumonia there, the most sensible thing to do is to make sure that they don’t suffer, and to refrain from doing anything else. But this is all too rare. Instead, old people, who are dying, are torn out of their familiar surroundings, rushed off to hospital in an ambulance, resuscitated and given artificial respiration. If they’re unlucky, they die in the elevator. These are horrible, undignified situations.
SPIEGEL: Why does it happen like this?
De Ridder: Dying a simple death is no longer an option in our society, even in places where one might expect to. Hardly anyone dies without an infusion or artificial feeding. For a long time, dying has not been natural.
SPIEGEL: What do you consider „natural death“? […]“