Life Support Issues/Last Days of Life


My father (72 years old) smoked for 50 years. He quit cold turkey in 2003, but is now in Stage IV COPD. He has been on oxygen fulltime since 2008. He has been in and out of the hospital since then with exacerbations. He has been under Hosparus KY care since Dec of 2011 (what a blessing!);, steadily declining in energy and function over the past 12 months. The day after Christmas, he became bedridden. His nurse had to insert a catheter because he had not urinated in 36-48 hrs (he now urinates minimally). He is on liquid oxycodone for pain every 1-2 hrs. His eyesight is failing. His blood oxygen level has decreased in the past 48 hrs from mid 80s to high 70s and remains steadily there in spite of breathing treatments and higher O2 levels (4-5 Liters/hr?). He has a history of CHF. My sisters and I are trying to ascertain if he has hours or days so we can plan accordingly to be by his side (we are currently sharing duties). ANY advice you have is greatly appreciated!!!

I am so sorry this took so long. My internet connectivity has not been good. I am sorry about your father.He sounds like he is truly in respiratory failure. I would plan according to hours or just a day or  so. He urinates minimally because he is likely also having kidney failure.
Most families want very much to be at the bedside when their loved one is dying, but often it does not work out. Its important that you have been there for him all along, that is what matters most. It seems some patients choose to die when their loved ones are not present. So be with him when you can and continue to take care of yourself as he would want for you to do. I hope everything goes well for all of you during this stressful time.  

Life Support Issues

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Betsy Murphy


My expertise is in end of life care for adults. Identifying when someone is approaching the end of their life. Benefits and burdens of end of life treatments. Managing pain and other symptoms. Providing care for dying patients at home. Advocating for someone who is dying in a hospital or nursing home.


More than 28 years of experience in hospice care. Currently consulting with hospices to promote access for patients to receive hospice care earlier in the course of their illness. Betsy provides training for hospice marketing staff to effectively work with nursing facilities to help identify eligible patients. She writes Additional Development Request (ADR) letters to Medicare to help hospices get paid for their services and to avoid future claim denials.

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

Articles: Clinical Reviews, Advance for Nurses, Nursing Spectrum, Washington Business Woman,; Understanding Medical-Surgical Nursing (FA Davis and Company), Guide to Caregiving in the Final Months of Life (TM Brown publishers).

Bachelors of Science in Nursing, additionally trained as a Family Nurse Practitioner and certified as a hospice and palliative care nurse.

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Woman in Loudoun County (VA) by Loudoun County Commission on Women 1997 and 2002.

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