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I read somewhere that if the medical costs for the first and last year or two of our lives as a whole were eliminated overall costs would drop some huge amount.

The UK's National Health Service has apparently come to the same conclusion and is attacking the problem by thinning the herd:

Put 1 in 100 patients on death list, GPs told: Frailest to be asked to choose 'end-of-life' care

GPs have been asked to select one in every 100 of their patients to go on a list of those likely to die over the next 12 months. The patients will be singled out for 'end-of-life care', potentially saving the NHS more than £1 billion a year.

The listed patients may be asked to say where they would prefer to die and should be told they can draw up a 'living will' by which they can instruct doctors to withdraw life-saving treatment if they become incapacitated in hospital.

Information for GPs on what happens to such patients said they would be 'less likely to be subject to treatments of limited clinical value'.

Over the past week, some families have told the Daily Mail that they believe their loved ones were wrongly put on the LCP by hospitals when they were not in fact dying.

In theory this may not be a bad idea. But theory does not take into account human error.

My 91-year-old mother went into the hospital for atrial fibrillation and rapidly developed cascading organ failure, passing peacefully in her sleep about 10 days later. One of the docs on the case wanted to do more tests and try more treatment, in spite of her instructions not to employ heroic measures and at who-knows-what cost, just to give her a few more days of "life" in a hospital bed. If they can eliminate that sort of thing, I'm all for it. If they pick the wrong people, not so much.

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