Central to this provocative documentary is the case of a comatose patient, whose family and healthcare team are in conflict over how long to continue with the treatments which are keeping him alive. In making decisions about his care, they confront disturbing ethical questions about patient autonomy vs. the needs of the family, about who is in a position to judge what another person would want, about the role and impact of faith, and about the certainty or fallibility of medical judgment. This moving film focuses on the key roles of nursing staff in patient care and communication. It profiles six severely ill patients who agreed to be a part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's SUPPORT Study on end-of-life care and decision making.
Their stories offer no easy answers, but raise many of the key issues faced by patients and those who care for them, including the role of technology, deciding when to use or withdraw life-sustaining treatments, the importance of effective pain management, and the impact of patients' culture and community on care decisions.