68% of older Americans say they’d want to be taken off life support and allowed to die
Last week, a man with the words “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) tattooed across his chest sparked an ethical debate when he was admitted to a Miami hospital. Doctors questioned the legality of the tattoo as an end-of-life wish since the patient was unconscious, ultimately giving the patient basic medical attention but not placing the man on life support. A recent YouGov poll on whether the hospital made the right or wrong decision reveals that more than half of Americans (57%) believe that the hospital followed the correct course.
Age plays a factor in opinion. While a majority in each age group say that they believe the hospital was right not to place the man on life support, younger Americans are less sure of the decision than others. Millennials (ages 18-34) are ten percentage points less likely (47%) than the general public to believe that the decision was the correct one. Belief in it as the right decision gains further support when the respondent is older; 64% of Americans over 55 believe it was the right decision (64%).
One in five Americans are not convinced that the hospital’s actions were right (20%). Millennials ere more unsure (31%) of what was the correct course than thought it was the wrong decision (22%).
YouGov Omnibus polled Americans on the wider issue of whether or not they’d like to be placed on a life support machine if their doctors thought they would never regain consciousness after an accident. Most agreed (54%) that they would like to be taken off life support and be allowed to die, while a smaller number of respondents (20%) said they would like to stay on it in case there was a chance they would regain consciousness.
On the larger issue of mortality and life support, opinion is still influenced by the respondent’s age. Millennials are just four percentage points more likely to say they would want to be taken off life support (36%) than be kept on it (32%). Even within the millennial age group, differences are stark. Older millennials (ages 25-34) are ten percentage points less likely (27%) than their younger cohorts (37%) to say they’d like to remain on life support.
Millennials may lead the sentiment to stay on life support but a downward trend reveals itself as respondents grow older. Only one in ten (12%) Americans over 55 say they’d like to stay hooked up to the machine. As a respondent’s age increases, the more likely they are to say they would want to be taken off;Americans over 55 are the most likely to say they’d cut off life support (68%).
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