The worst-case scenario question you must ask patients: even healthy ones

The last few passengers filter in and buckle themselves up before takeoff. The emergency exit row is occupied by an elderly couple, and I am seated behind them. The flight attendant asks whether they are comfortable in those seats, given that they’d have to respond in the case of an emergency.

“Not that I expect anything bad to happen,” the flight attendant adds with a smile.

I, too, am familiar with discussing worst-case-scenarios, in particular when I must determine my patients’ “code status” — the intervention patients would want if they were to stop breathing or if their heart were to stop beating. Would they want to be revived? Or would they prefer no action be taken?

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