Going Against Medical Advice

What to do when you disagree with your doctor.

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Comments (90)

(85) Avi, May 1, 2014 3:19 PM

I have had 12 Surgeries in 16 Years...

I have to say, from personal experience, the patient, and even family may I say, know better then doctors, why? First of all the Gemara says that "The sick person is close to himself", and that is about eating on Yom Kippur! My last surgery i had, I was feeling horrible, but I got strengths and told the doctor (I was 16) I want to leave, my parents agreed. It was under 48 hours from a surgery where they stuck a halo on my head with screws in my skull. When I got home the andrenlyn went down and I felt bad at home too, but why does it matter where I feel sick? It is not like there are pain killers in the hospital I would take which I don't have at home. There is a psychological and physical aspect to this. Firsty, the hospital is germy and infected with diseases. Secondly, it isn't home, it isn't your comfort zone, you have to be with people you don't know, and just not comfortable and you don't feel well! So that alone can cause someone to feel sicker. And at home you can have better conveniences, people will visit you more, and doctors, I have to say, are so scared to be sued they rather be safe then smart, but they just act stupidly. That is my thought.

(84) ER Doc, December 3, 2011 7:28 AM

This ER doc agrees with that situation

I stumbled upon your post in more search for material for a talk about AMA discharge I will be giving , so it is a question I have thought a lot about. For many physicians, especially in the ER, the default position is the most conservative one: If I can't rule out any and all badness, I should admit the patient and continue the search for badness. I have had more than one patient sign out AMA with whom I secretly agreed. When is it OK to sign out AMA? It is always a deeply personal question. A common dilemma is the 40 or 50-something patient whose chest pain is probably not his or her heart (or lungs, etc)... but I haven't reached he point of diagnostic certainty that will allow me to comfortably send the patient home. When the patient starts to worry about his bill, or missing work, or taking care of his kids, I have to honestly say that yes, I probably AM expending your time and money to NOT find anything wrong. But the consequences of NOT finding the problem you still have a 5% chance of having are too disastrous to stop. And then I usually pull the old "Your kids would rather not see you tonight and your paying off your bill for a few years than to have tonight be the last time they see you." (Yes, that is a sucker punch.) The question that YOU (the patient) must answer is is the gamble worth it.... do you even agree with me that it is a gamble? Is your own feeling that you are fine a real assessment or wishful thinking? In cases such as your mothers, I think you made as great decision. Once one reaches the point of no longer wanting aggressive care, there is no point in having an aggressive work-up. Further, frail elderly are the people most likely to be harmed by hospitalization. At the end of the day, the doctor has the better medical knowledge, but the patient and family are the experts on their own lives and values. Both kinds of knowledge are crucial to informed care, or the decision to refuse care.

(83) Esther, November 11, 2011 10:28 PM

Thank you as always for such amazing Videos. I just want to say that I think the perpous of everything is for the sake of Emunah (Trust) and the more trust we have in G-D in these situations that is doing the right thing!

(82) Leah, November 11, 2011 4:18 PM

100% the right decision

Not only were you correct in taking Mom home I believe you should not leave a parent alone in the hospital when they must be there. Wrong tests & procedures are done all the time. B"H my mother (60s at the time)was smart enough to refuse a test that she shouldn't have. Her doctor was grateful too.

(81) mintzi, November 2, 2011 8:46 PM

I agree with your descision.

There is a time when one is forced to face having to evluate the health care that is to be adminiastered to our parents. I believe it comes down to what is going to contribute to the quality of their lives. Clearly putting an older frail Mother through several tests will not improve the quality of her life and what of the findings? Does it make sense to put her through unpleasant procedures or worse still possible surgery. You absolutely did the right thing.

(80) Anonymous, November 1, 2011 12:54 AM

you were 100% right. My mother was taken to the hospital the doctors did not check with us. we knew she had a small lump in her stomach. We knew. Her Dr. said leave it alone it will not hurt her. At the hospital they immediately operated to take it out. It was benign tumor very small did not grow or move. She was at least 88 . She had her stomach upset She had herring and icecream. When her dr. found out that they operated . They did not call her Dr. or her children. She was healthy in every other was. YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!

(79) Brenda, October 30, 2011 5:02 PM

Regarding Medical Advice

You are absolutely right. One must use one's common sense if they are fortunate to have it. Did it pay to "butchka" your beloved mother. No! She was lucky to have you and your brother to protect her.

(78) Willy, October 30, 2011 4:16 AM

you did good

I had an Great Aunt who at 95 got leukemia. the doctor wanted to treat her to make her better.she asked why? the doctor to keep you alive. she responded "I'm 95 years old what do I have left to do? she went home and the illness took its course. this fine lady looked forward to to living but also looked forward t dieing. her view was always if G-D wants me He knows where I am. I think you did great. I hope if I am ever in that position that my children will make the same as you.Shalom my friend

(77) steve, October 29, 2011 8:27 PM

sensing what is best

I've spent most of my professional life in tertiary care facilities and can say I believe you made not only the right choice but the best choice for your mother. In dealing with physicians, hospitals, or any care giver or care giving institution one needs to go with his intelligence and your senses...common and spiritual. Asking the common sense questions you asked is important and necessary in making an intelligent decision. I'm glad you asked them!

(76) Laura, October 29, 2011 2:23 AM

not about doctors

So, when do I go against the "establishment"? I am a homemaker, mother of 10, grandmother to 5, home educating all my children. So, I've gone against society's standards my whole adult life. But I have not gone against the standards of the conservative, christian upbringing I received. I'm now learning about Sarah, Rivkah, Leah, and Rachel, and many more Jewish women who spoke, acted, and lived quite contrary to what I had been taught.... I am looking forward to thinking and acting according to my own beliefs, my own intuition in the second half of my life. Now, please pray that my husband can also live with this. :-)

(75) Diana Page, October 28, 2011 10:18 PM

Going Against Medical Advice

I agree with the Rabbi. After a lifetime of being in your own skin you are well qualified to decide what, where and when you need to take charge. When you are advised to enter the hospital and you feel that it is a cover your --- move, speak up for you, for your spouse, for your loved ones. Bravo!

(74) Jolene K, October 28, 2011 6:14 PM

Agree, but perplexed

As a registered nurse who has cared for the sick and premature infant and the aged I have seen the exact delimma you have discribed many times. I have also seen how (appropriately) troubled families become when making the decision to treat or not to treat. Each situation is unique to the patient, family and community they come from. No one size fits all answers in this arena. Now, I have to disclose to you that I am a gentile. A gentile that believes that the revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai is a more accurate, closest, best instruction of how to live, act, behave, relate to God Himself, the Creator of all, and my fellow man as this human is spiritually, intellectually and actually able to comprehend. So I look to sites like this to futher my understanding of how to live, act,and relate. Here is where I am perplexed. King Solomon summarized a portion of the wisdom he acquired in the Kohelet 3:1-8, "...a time to be born and a time to die." In the case of your 96 year old mother, I hope that most would agree, some time that day is going to come, most likely sooner for her than for others. Which provokes the question(s)...when that time to die comes, is it something to be fought of by all means, or accepted? I well understand that preceding God's intention to end someone's life is murder. Something this nurse very seriously considers when caring for my patients. Death shall not come by my hands is my motto. But what about the other side of the coin? I have cared for patients that have clearly terminal diagnosis and the family wants everything done. By everything I mean a full resusitation that involves treatment that cannot work to save their life, but will almost guaruntee the last few weeks of their life are the most tormented, painful possible. I am supposed to DO these interventions to my patients. I feel in the face of their terminal diagnosis, this is cruelty. I would rather make them comfortable. Recommendations?

(73) Shulamit Mallet, October 28, 2011 5:09 AM

Every situation is individual

The best thing to do in the emergency room is to try to get a medical person that you know and who knows you involved, someone that will answer your questions and understand your situation, so can help you make logical choices and advocate for you. If that's not possible, stay on top of the situation as much as possible. You could sit there for hours if they think you'll be quiet and won't cause trouble. In your case, there should, at least, have been some tests ordered, things like blood sugar levels and ekgs to make sure the heart was functioning properly. The lack of sleep and overload in many emergency rooms leads to many mistakes. I've seen the results of both. You have to be on top of everything, question everything, and advocate for yourself or your loved one. Don't be afraid to speak up. You should trust your instincts, however, if you know the patient well enough to be able to judge the situation by yourself. Keep in mind that ultimately, you're responsible for your decision and have to look at yourself in the mirror afterwards, as well as answer to other family members.

(72) Beverly Kurtin, October 27, 2011 11:59 PM

You DID do the right thing

Whenever I feel that what I need is not being done, I just put my clothes on and leave whatever hospital I am in. Three weeks ago I had to drive myself to a hospital because of intense pain. I knew what it was and what needed to be done but the doctor thought he knew better and wanted to have me go to the coronary catherization lab lab for an angiography. I refused and told him that the pain was from a stenosis of the cervical area of my spine. He admitted me to the CCU and when I had had no pain relief in two hours, I got up, put my clothes on, dialed 911 and requested an ambulance to get me to another hospital. The doctor demanded that I stay and I slapped him with PATIENT'S RIGHTS. I had the absolute right to go where I could get pain relief. Before ambulance could arrive, I had passed out from the pain. When I woke up, I was in a bed. I called my emergency number for my legal plan. It was 2am, but they answer 24 hours around the clock. THAT is what it took to get pain relief. I'm still on a form of Morphine; I take it every four hours but the pain is still there and is incurable. Congress is talking about lowering Medicare even though not a penny of Medicare comes from the budget; it is paid for by tax payers. Ever wonder what FICA means? Federal Insurance Contribution Act. I paid into that insurance plan for over 45 years and now the Republicans want to make it more difficult to get medical care. I don't even make $19,000 a year; how am I supposed to pay more for my medical care? They want to do the same thing to Social Security which is paid for by FICA also. You did the RIGHT THING. Hospitals are becoming warehouses again, it happened when hospitals became for-profit instead of for-patients. My next door neighbor had a mastectomy and was sent home THE SAME DAY. I had her husband call their attorneys and she went back for a week's stay. Her HMO did not want to pay for the week. This country needs to have another revolution.

(71) Anonymous, October 27, 2011 5:28 PM

bad desicion

Dear Rab Normally i agree with all your opinions But I this time I think you and your brother made a bad decision ,and put your Mother in danger, hospitals are bad and not friendly places, but sometimes are the only way to study what is happening

(70) Dave, October 27, 2011 3:27 AM

40 years in hospitals

After working 40 years in hospitals in NYC, I can tell you you did the right thing. Doctors get paid to make diagnosis and treat at all costs. Too many get tunnel vision and treat the symptoms and illness and not the patient. In addition the legal system forces the medical world to perform many tests that are not needed, while insurance coverage does not allow other tests that are needed. Leaving mom in the hands of the medical professionals would of resulted in lots of painful tests, a stressful environment, and possibly treatment that would not of added to the quality of her life but rather taken quality time away from her.

(69) Bob, October 27, 2011 2:05 AM

The patient or advocate makes the final decision NOT the doctor

While the medical doctor does know more about the workings of the body than the you, HOWEVER the doctor does NOT know more about the workings of the body than the body itself. The 'Law of Homeostasis' dictates that ALL living things strive for balance and ALWAYS do the best it can under the particular circumstances. Therefore it is best to ask the doctor: What do you think it is and why; what do you recommend and why? Thank you very much, I will decide. The next issue that is consistent with the tape is: regarding the test(s) you want to run, what ids it you suspect and / or want to rule out. Then, if it is a positive result what action would you take. If it is an action you would NOT do OR they would do nothing, DON'T get the test. For example, a 36 year old pregnant woman was recommended to have an amniocentesis. When asked the precious questions, she was told that a positive result would result i a termination of the pregnancy recommendation. If that would be an option, get the test. If that would never be a consideration, DON'T get the test. GREAT VIDEO!

(68) Annie, October 27, 2011 1:51 AM

who said we had to put our own intelligence aside because we're in front of the medical community?

Every body gets to abuse the medical system, patients as much as medical staff, in Canada as well as in the U.S., while the families stand by watching and afraid to speak up 'just in case' the other person is right. Let's not be afraid to be right. Let's not be afraid to be wrong. That's is NOT the issue. The issue is being or not being Proactive and taking a chance of doing what's right for our loved one. Maybe That's the other issue... disparate families with no values in common. We don't know what the other family members want or don't want because it's too politically incorrect to speak about it. I think you did the Right thing. G-d Bless.

(67) Della Merritt, October 27, 2011 12:45 AM

Thank you for your encouraging words. I have decided to follow God instead of the doctors.

(66) Bill, October 26, 2011 9:53 PM

The right choice

Hospitals can be a deteriorating experience. You made the right choice.

(65) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 8:57 PM

I agree. We did the same thing for both my elderly parents!

When they reached a certain point when each hospilazation was more destructive than helpful, my beloved parent and siblings didn't want to torture them anymore. They both passed away in peace.

(64) yossi, October 26, 2011 8:33 PM


When my mother-in-law was about 95, the nursing home doctor called and told us that she is sick, and asked if we want him to make her comfortable, or send her to the hospital. We knew her medical condition, probably better then the doctor, and sent her to the hospital. It turned out to pneumonia. She was in the hospital for a few weeks, and lived to enjoy all her family for more than 2 years after that episode. Bottom line, you have to be your own advocate, and make your own decisions based on the best available information. And in order to keep your own sanity, you really can't second guess yourself after the fact.

(63) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 8:31 PM

Who is in charge

I have a medical adviser (doctor), and a financial adviser - I and/or my family make the decision whether to take the advise or not.

(62) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 7:11 PM

Trusting you inner feelings,

There is a voice inside usually telling you what you should do when it comes making life decisions regarding you health. Dr's do not know everything only make suggestions,second op pinons help[ much. You can refuse treatment when you think it won't help you.

(61) Bea Pollock, October 26, 2011 6:43 PM

Kol Hakovod! G-d bless you. You definitely did the right thing!

You are a wise son. Your Mother A"H was fortunate you and your brother used your good senses and took your elderly frail Mother out of the hospital. At 96 what good would all the tests do. Whatever years Hashem had left for her you allowed her to live them without being uncomfortable and in pain and get sick from their tests and care. Good for you!

(60) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 5:50 PM

You did what was best for the one you loved!!

We too blindly followed doctors and our oldest child now 28, though doing ok, will NEVER EVER be able to eat like other people. That is right...NEVER!! We are grateful for what she can have and she is able to live on her own and take care of herself, work, etc. But the pleasures of many foods will not be hers in this body. All because we blindly had her immunized, up until she was about 4 and that doc told us it was killing her and to quit doing that. Which we did...THANKFULLY HaShem had that doc help us to see what was making her so sick. Yes, we still go to docs, but we find one who will allow us to make choices. Our bodies are NOT machines and what works for one, may not for another. You are indeed a brave man to do as you did, here in USA anyway. They want total control over us and want to decide when people live or die and by what method. Tis not theirs to say. Your mom was fortunate that you and your brother took the best choice for her!!

(59) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 5:13 PM

You did the right thing

bs"d Rabbi Salomon, I think you did the right thing. Thank you for raising the issue.

(58) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 4:43 PM

I agree with you

Absolutely. You did the right thing. Sometimes, at 96, the test can be more dangerous than the cause of the problem.. and what would you do? At 96 the treatment for a problem may be more dangerous than the problem. The decisions have to fit the person.

(57) Eli, October 26, 2011 2:51 PM

can't trust a doctor

you did the right thing, hospitals are for ppl. that are sick and you mother wasn't sick. hospitals don't care about about their patients, thy care about MONEY, that's right, they there to make money. best example : a mother expecting a baby is not sick, that's why they should not deliver baby's in the hospitals, hospitals cause all the complications. G-D bless all :)

Jersey girl, January 4, 2012 10:33 PM


look up the statistics from The Good Ole' days. Before women delivered in hospitals, they routinely died of infection ("Child Bed Fever") or bleeding. not to mention what would happen to them or the baby if the cord was wrapped aroung the neck, bad positioning etc. Plus, pain medication makes the whole thing, you know, not like she's some animal having her puppies in the basement.

(56) Linda, October 26, 2011 2:41 PM


I agree that you made the correct decision. Given your mother's age and condition, you were so right in thinking what the doctors would do with the results of all those tests. Why put your mother through all that stress and remove her from her usual surroundings when further invasive procedures following the tests would not be a logical next step?

(55) Raul, October 26, 2011 2:36 PM

you followed your instinct

You made an excellent choice, you follow your instinct.

(54) Sheila Deutsch, October 26, 2011 2:18 PM

Unfortunately many of today's medical actions are mandated by rules rather than doctor's opinion. You must always use your good sense. If you are in doubt get a second opinion. SD

(53) Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN, October 26, 2011 2:14 PM

We are accountable to Hashem for what we do to ourselves.

shalom, Rabbi Salomon! I met you at breakfast in the dining room of the King Solomon Hotel in October of 2010. I follow your videos each week on AISH.COM. I work as a Rabbi Chaplain in a major Catholic health system in the Philadelphia area. I agree with what you have said, and I advise Jewish patients and residents of this health system in the same way. I believe Hashem wants each of us to "take charge" of our lives. Thank you for your words.

(52) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 1:41 PM

i am there now.....

entering this horrible world of old age medical care is an alice in wonderland experience. Money makes the world go round in these places, not what is best for the person. Most of these elderly are on some kind of payment program and the healthcare field is there to soak the money up. For those like our family who are self pay it is excruciating to deal with them, they want to keep providing "services" that cause pain and do not help the person at all, but keep the billings going!!!! Like you said they TELL you that you HAVE to go to the hospital etc.

(51) Sabina Flores, October 26, 2011 11:46 AM

Going against Dr.s advice

You did the right thing. At 96 of course things start to be erratic just like a mechanical machine. I am 83 and I would not want anything done to me. You and your brother saved your mom from a lot of suffering.

(50) Natalie Kehr, October 26, 2011 5:08 AM

Of course you did the correct thing.

Doctors should always be asked what the tests might reveal, and what they would do with the various possible outcomes. If there are possible courses of action, and some of these might prolong life for a short time, the doctors should also be carefully questioned about the quality of the extended life. Beloved pets are often treated better than beloved people

(49) Graenum Schiff MD, October 26, 2011 3:06 AM

You did the right thing

More often than not, if a 90 year old frail person who is feeling ok, is admitted to a hospital for tests, more harm than good is done.

(48) Razel, October 26, 2011 1:52 AM

We must be our own advocates!

You did the right thing. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have too many examples of not doing what the doctor recommends. I use Homeopathy and other alternative therapies, so when something is suggested by an allopathic doctor, I usually just take that information to my homeopath and get treated (or treat my family) with homeopathy. A way better choice.

(47) angela, October 26, 2011 1:23 AM

I made the wrong choice

My mother died in february 2011 and everything was wrong from the day she was brought to the hospital. I listened to everthing the Doctors said and I regret and can't live with myself. I wish I had died instead. If only I would have brought her home instead of keeping her in the hospital with all the germs and infections she had gotten. I thought I did a good job at the time never leaving her side but the medical staff was wrong. My Mother lived with me for 78 years and I knew her body better then the doctors who I now feel wanted to experiment with her and didn't care or see her as human beingbut just another senior who had lived their life. You are right with the decision you made with your mother. If only i would done the same. I hope my mother can forgive me.

(46) Anonymous, October 26, 2011 12:29 AM

The son of 96 year old mother was right

I also have taken my mother out of hospitals despite MD warnings and am happy to have done so. Hospitals are very dangerous places and to be avoided except for emergencies for the most part

(45) william Davidson, October 25, 2011 11:03 PM

I have gone against my doctor's advise countless times

I have Parkinson's, and if I had listened to my neurologist, I would have been at home with a full time caretaker 6 years ago. Instead, I maintain my independence and am in overall good condition. Based on a treatment discovery that I made with a friend, I opened a holistic clinic in Jerusalem to treat neurological diseases including Parkinson's, MS, and Dementia using cold laser. IT WORKS.

(44) Ruth Housman, October 25, 2011 10:32 PM

going AMA

I would have had the same considerations you had, as to what, after going through these tests, would have been the outcome, for your mother, at such an advanced age? Tests themselves carry some risk, and also there is terrible anxiety, experienced being thrust into a hospital environment. Since they were no doubt doing this for legal purposes, as it seems medically not reasonable to run tests especially when she was acting all right, I think your considered response was about love, and what we call compassionate care. Doctors and Hospitals are subjected to a lot of pressures, and doctors, act often in ways they privately would not act, in order to cover for themselves and the institution. There can be cogent reasons for going AMA, and some of these have to do with treatment also of psychiatric patients, a whole other area of inquiry, especially years ago, when people were tranquillized and forced to take medications that did cause side effects, like tardive dyskinesia against their will. There is a fine line between danger to one self, and coercion that is not in the interests of the patient, or patient autonomy.

(43) Tamar, October 25, 2011 10:25 PM

I completely agree with you

My husband is a physician and I myself am in the health care profession, and this is a question that both of us have encountered very often in our practices, especially my husband. I once had an awful stomach ache, and because I was only a teenager and a major drama queen, my parents got scared because it seemed worse than normal stomach aches. They took me to the ER. They tortured us for 7 hours, all night long, running tests, sticking me with needles, even having an OB Gyn Resident coming to check my uterus because they thought maybe it was uterine pain and I didn't realize it (though I think I can tell the difference between uterine pain versus stomach pain).After 7 hours, they officially declared it (drum roll) Indigestion. 7 hours of torture! What a harrowing experience. These stories don't just teach us about listening to doctors versus ourselves. It teaches us to listen to our Neshamas.The voice of Emes comes from the Neshama, though it seems quiet because of the loud drama queen called the body. We need to learn to differentiate between the loud and soft voices, and know when to still the loud voice and tell it that Hashem is directing us to go in a specific spiritual direction versus giving in to you (the body) and your constant cravings.It's tough, and sometimes decisions seem so hard to make, but the truth is the voice of Emes is always right. Rabbi Salomon, I applaud you for being brave and listening to the voice of Emes and not letting the body cloud your vision. It's tough to do in these times where there is just no prophecy or vision and Emes is so masked, but when the right choice is made, it's amazing how clarity just comes right along with it and you just feel such serenity.

(42) Bernie Rosenberg, October 25, 2011 9:31 PM



(41) Bronwyn Van Dam, October 25, 2011 9:29 PM


Thank you for your video regarding your mother's hospital treatment. A similar thing happened to my husband's grandmother who was roughly the same size as your mother. She also collapsed at her care facility and was admitted to hospital. They subjected her to all the tests and drips, and she said later that if it happened again, to leave her alone and not take her to the hospital. She found it so painful and distressing. You did the right thing.

(40) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 8:53 PM

going against medical advice

Under the circumstances that you describe, I also believe that you did the right thing. At 96, and appearing fine when you got there, she didn't need to be put through the stress of a battery of tests in the hospital for an unknown purpose.

(39) george hafitz, October 25, 2011 8:08 PM

? Same decision if age 56??

Most tests could have been evsluated as an outpatient or the most dangerous causes of 'fsinting"

(38) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 8:05 PM

I wish I would have done the same

We must realize that doctor's today are governed by the rules of insurance and malpractice, not Hippocrates, we cannot let them make the decisions because they are no longer looking out for the benefit of the patients. We must be self informed and we must advocate for our elderly parents, who rely on us to make the right decision. We love them and we must do what is good for them. Therefore we should rely on our own smarts and make the decision based on our own instincts.

(37) jim Walden, October 25, 2011 7:19 PM

ENT doctor was off on problem

I had fluid build-up in one of my ears that kept coming back about every month & getting more often . also ringing & buzzing in ear was getting worse. the Doctor more less told me all in my head. think he got tired of seeing me & refered me to another specialist , that is the one thing he did right as the other Doctor took one look & knew right away. the Mastiod Cavity in the inner ear was very infected. soon afterword was in surgery over 3 hours to remove the infection. which was good as was told could had other complications if not done. i'm just thankful did end up with the the other Doctor as knew something wasn't right. pays to get several opinions.

(36) Rivka, October 25, 2011 7:06 PM

You made the right call

Rabbi, I am a nurse for many years have worked in hospital and facilities ect. In an assist. living/ nursing home type facility administration panics when someone gets sick because they do not want anyone dying there it adversely affects the numbers submitted to the state. A death in a facility is reportable! When someone is 96 year-old and frail, the worse place to send them is the hospital (if you can help it) because it is full of germs and frail patients tend to get sicker not better. The days of man are 70 and 80 with strength she was 96 it all in G-D's hands anyway you know that.

(35) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 6:52 PM

You took a big risk

It is very possible she could have had a stroke or, if she hit her head, being so frail, she could have had a sub-dural hematoma. She could be alert, conscious, etc. and still have had the stroke (or in this case a TIA) and/or a sub-dural hematoma. That requires tests and hospitalization--especially with a FRAIL 96 Year old.

(34) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 6:19 PM

way to go

The same thing happened with my father although he wasn't old and frail-my mother was pulled aside by a physician assistant and he whispered, "Get him out of here". With my mother in law, she developed a fever while in the hospital, they wanted to do a spinal tap, we said no, it turned out to be from the medication cocktail they gave her. Too bad nobody talks about this issue when it comes to children as well-there's a time to say no to vaccines, medications, hospitalizations with them also.

(33) David, October 25, 2011 6:11 PM

Blame the lawyers

It is telling that you had to sign all kinds of scary legal forms releiving the hospital of responsibility. Blame the lawyers! The ER doctors were probably following orders to protect the hospital and themselves. If they had freely allowed your mother to leave without the tests, and then something happened to her, you could come back to sue them for malpractice, even though they may not have been at fault. They were acting in proactive self-defense. Don't blame the doctors for playing by the rules of the system. If the system is broken, fix it.

(32) marcia, October 25, 2011 5:41 PM

If you do not care for yourself and your family you are abdicating responsibility

We need to hear this sort of tough advice. The time comes when others cannot carry the burden we are meant to carry. With God's help, we can shoulder decision making with all of its direct responsibilities.

(31) Amy, October 25, 2011 5:37 PM

What about your mother's wishes?

You said that your mother was frail, but you didn't say that she had senile dementia or some other condition that would have prevented her from participating in the decision-making process about her own treatment. Assuming she was conscious and of sound mind, I find it disturbing that there is no mention of anyone's having asked her what she wanted to do or even presented the choice to her.

Alan S., October 28, 2011 9:18 AM

Excellent and fair point. Of course, generally speaking, 96 y.o. people bow to the wishes of their family. Rabbi Solomon is a mensch, and undoubtedly conferred with his mother before speaking with the doctors.

(30) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 5:24 PM

even in hospice care you need to advocate

When my Mom in law was at the end of her life she had made clear she wanted to die at home with her family. she and my father in law had lived with us for 8 years, and we honored her wish. When we called in hospise care to help us, they tried to tell us , the usual and customary process that she would likely go though, when I tried to tell them of her personallity, and how it was likly to go according to her diagnosis and personality, I was "poo-pooed", but she was gone within 5 weeks, she ate and drank almost to the end, and was consciencse within minutes of the end. No going out silently for her, yet she went to HaShem in peace in her own home, surrounded by her family, her beagle, and her cat.

(29) cisca mudde, October 25, 2011 5:18 PM

Yes! your decision is right!

We as G'ds people had to take the courage to take a decision right out of our hart. Whe are G'ds creation and i think He realy likes it, as whe do this kind of things. The Tora is such a great Book for our life and He gave it to us, yust to take wise decisions. Thank you for telling your story, It is inspiring to me! Sinsere greatings, Cisca Mudde-Hulsman

(28) Sylvia, October 25, 2011 5:12 PM

I often disagree with doctors

I often disagree with the doctor's medical advice...but not very often because I try to stay away from doctors. One doctor and I argued because I don't believe in statins and I don't believe the cholestral myth. He gave up trying. Another doctor wanted me to take shots to prevent lyme disease because I 'm often bitten by deer ticks. I refused and refused his services from then on. It turned out those shots were found to be dangerous and not helpful. I use a lot of home remedies when i feel sick or tired . I go to doctors when if I step on a rusty nail or cut myself accidentally. I'm 78 now...I check out aches and pains online and I google for information.

(27) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 5:05 PM

You did the right thing, Rabbi

If (your mother) were 10 or 20 or 30 years old, I'd say go for the tests because it is unusual for someone that age to just pass out. However, elderly people's bodies don't function as well as they used to. Since your mother seemed fine and there were no apparent injuries, the time in the hospital for merely tests probably would do her more harm than good. There is a strong link between people's mental and physical states of health, and in this case, it's very possible that the time in the hospital would adversely affect how she felt about life, which would then in turn affect her physical health. Of course, it could have also been a mistake to not run the tests, because there could have been an underlying furtive condition. However, and this is vital, I think you made the best decision given the information you had at the time. In fact, I would probably do the same thing.

(26) Rebecca Sussman, October 25, 2011 4:57 PM

Hooray for you. I'm 81 years old and I would like the same decision.

I wouldn't want to stay in the hospital either for 3 days undergoing tests. Especially a 96 year old women should be at home with family when the time comes.

(25) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 4:44 PM

Totally agree

I only wish I had done the same after fainting a couple of years ago and injuring my shoulder and neck. I wanted them checked out, but the ER doctor wanted to hold me for "observation." The experience was terrible. Every test could have been done outpatient. Every test was negative. I could have told him why I fainted, since I've been doing it for over 40 years, but no one asked me and my opinion was discounted. Good for you and your brother for giving your mother the best possible quality of life.

(24) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 4:41 PM

G-d bless you. My family foolishly trusted doctors advice above doing what was right for me. I was hospitalized for psychiatric reasons when really I had just gone through a really traumatic experience and needed more love from my family to handle the shock. The hospital was ten times more terrifying than the traumatic experience, and left me stigmatized with a hospitalization on my record when in reality everything would have returned to normal if my family did not follow doctor advice. Mind you I also went to medical school, and the stigma of what I went through haunted me for a long time. Long story short I was put on a lot of horrible medications that I didn't want to nor need to take to begin with, and it turned out all the things that my family and the doctors thought I was crazy for, like believing in G-d, were right. I firmly believe that the doctors go by the 'secular' book instead of doing what they know is right most of the time. There is too much fear of litigation and loss of prestige involved. Any time there is a risk to the doctor in doing the right thing, you should be careful. No psychiatrist wants to automatically declare their patient healthy for several reasons. 1. Because if anything happens C'V there is an enormous risk to their practice. 2. They are making money off of you. There's actually almost no incentive for them for you to get well. This actually if you notice is much of our medical system. Where is the actual incentive to help the patient? There's a lot of incentive to drug up patients, from the pharmaceutical companies, but to actually help the patient, lol. In order to get really the help you need in terms of medicine, your doctor has to be a real saint and be willing to buck a whole lot of trends. Honestly I had more results from going to Tzaddikim. My advice is to use your sechel always in terms of medicine and absolutely daven to Hashem, listen to your heart, and consult people who have only a vested interest in your being well.

(23) DMF, October 25, 2011 4:36 PM

Educate yourself

I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. The Dr. gave me the standard protocol: 1. take the tumor out by mastectomy or lumpectomy. 2. Have a chemo therapy a month after the surgery, then 3 months of radiation which will be administered 5X a week for 6 weeks. Right after the diagnosis, I read as much as I can, and called professional friends for advise. Finally I decided I don't want to go through all those treatment. I also learned a lot about the dangers of treatments that Doctors give to patients just because it's part of the protocol. But as you said, we're responsible to take care of ourselves. A friend told me that you can go through any treatment as long as you BELIEVE in it. The most important thing to remember is to learn NOT to say YES to everything the Doctor say. G-D has given us the knowledge to know ourself better than anyone else. By the way, I'm doing very well, and going strong. I thank G-D for it.

(22) David, October 25, 2011 4:30 PM

Good call.

This was the right call. Running long (and frequently painful) tests on elderly people is rarely a great idea. You can't cure old age. Doctors are kind of like lawyers or rabbis... they are experts on a particular topic, and should be consulted, but you can't shift responsibility for all decisions onto experts. In the end, you've got to live your life.

(21) Joseph Bell, October 25, 2011 4:23 PM

I am a doctor

Ultimately the patient has the responsibility for the decision because he or she bares the consequences of the decision. I always gave my best opinion and always respected the decision of the patient.

(20) .Herbert Weisman, October 25, 2011 4:07 PM

Agree with you with a caveat

I agree with you for several reasons. But first, I would like to suggest to you, if you haven't done so, that you make sure that you have a current durable power of attorney for your mother. Five years ago, we had the same situation with my father in law who was 97 at the time. The exact situation occured. He had many health problems including heart and kidney disease and some dementia. He passed out at the nursing home, was taken to the hospital, and since he had a do not resucitate order, the doctors asked him if they should admitt him. He said yes. My wife said not to do so, as she had a durable power of attorney for him. It wasn't current and didn't have a HIPPA clause (privacy) that the medical community and others require by law today. The doctors admitted him. They spent much time, money and resouces bringing his vitals in line. They sent him home. With home hospice care he lived another two weeks. When I was in the airforce as a dentist years ago. They told us as part of our training, that the lesson learned at Hiroshima, was not to expend valuable resources on people who were expectant. You save more people by treating those who are minimally injured and have a good chance of surviving. If we would follow this logical thinking in this country today, we could lower medical costs for everyone. Unfortunately, the politicans have no stomach to do this.

(19) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 4:03 PM

my aunt was 96

My 96 year old aunt was also in a assisted living facility, she was brought to the ER because of an irregular heartbeat. She was admitted, tested and told she needed heart surgery. She kept refusing until the doctor firghtened her into having it.....she was dead in 24 hours.

(18) judith, October 25, 2011 3:59 PM

You made the correct decision

There is no question in my mind that you made the only intelligent decision possible. To subject a 90 year old person with invasive tests is foolish. The hospital is a very dangerous place.

(17) Mel, October 25, 2011 3:51 PM

Doctors are only practicing medicine

Don't forget the word practicing.

fernande yael, October 26, 2011 6:45 AM

good for you ...i would have done the same way... your mother had been so unhappy in the hospital

(16) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 3:51 PM

comfort of home

Any dission is a risk. The doctor although educated risks little and is only following the assembly line routine were intuition, insite, empathy, and creativity is discouraged by the collage. I am sure your Mother was more comfortable in her own home surounded by the familiar ,then use as a guiny pig for some kind of invesigative proceedure. I curse myself for leaving my Mother in the cold, seting of hospital routine when she died. She begged to come home and I was week.

laurel alexander, October 25, 2011 7:45 PM

I agree with you

You did right by your Mom. G_d bless

(15) Anonymous, October 25, 2011 3:48 PM


i agree with you wholeheartedly for I trusted myself over doctors' advice and I WAS RIGHT. Eighteen years ago I was told by 4 doctors to have a hysterectomy and I refused to do so. I was pre-menopausal, was bleeding heavily due to a fibroid (which I read up on and discovered shrinks after menopause) and was told that surgery was the only answer. I waited it out for one year and then the bleeding stopped on its own(and has never returned). It is a known fact that the majority of hysterectomies are UNNECESSARY and, furthermore could have negative side effects, not to mention a long recovery period. Recently when undergoing an appendecitis attack and having an appendectomy, doctors discovered something on the MRI that they didn't understand.....the answer was it must be a uterine sarcoma which, of course, would require a hysterectomy. I produced MRI's from 7 years ago and when they compared the recent ones, discovered no changes and found a degenerating fibroid. As an asymptomatic female of 70, with no change in the MRI, why would I need surgery? I objected again, after being put through many tests and very frightening prognoses......WE MUST BE OUR OWN ADVOCATES......especially in this litigious society we live in.......GET A 2ND, 3RD, 4TH OPINION, listen to your own gut feelings, have someone with you when consulting with the physicians, and then MAKE YOUR CHOICE.......Surgeons know how to operate!!!!! I needed the appendectomy so I underwent that surgery; I did not need the hysterectomy............Thank you for presenting this situation to the public.

Anonymous, October 26, 2011 12:19 AM

this is a hard decision

this is a hard decision and i was in a situation when i needed the operation, but was not offered one because i didn't have an insurance to cover the costs. please never forget that there are a lot of problems involved in each and every situation and good insurance that can be milked forever and a bit as well as not having one can be some factors too. for that doctor it was enough not to look well after me. and even after the operation it was too expensive to stay at the hospital, i went back next day and got a horrible inflammation - that doctor blamed me for it when i went back for a check up. and you know, now looking back i know i should have trusted myself and stand up to him, but he was not charging extra for visits and when one is down due to illness it is easy to be bullied .there was no negotiations, courts, settlements not only because we had no money for that, but because .......... well i didn't think anything could have been changed by it. now i think that with this attitude there were most likely more women bullied around the way i was. so my point is - well done for standing up for yourself and trusting yourself. you have done the right thing. but above all i'm glad that the issue is discussed, for there are too many times when we don't trust ourselves and too many times when doctors cannot tell us the real thing because they are too worried to be sued. somewhere in the whole thing we went very wrong, when money and litigation are on the way of clear and simple communications between doctors and patients. and i believe that the door really swings both ways. for everyone involved B"H i have recovered after been sick for 4 years now. B"H it proved to me time and time again that there is a cure before sickness.

(14) Richard Wald, October 25, 2011 3:07 PM


There is no doubt you did the right thing. There was no sign of anything being majorally wrong and no reason to hospitalize her at that point.

(13) Perel, October 25, 2011 2:49 PM

I would do the same for my mom

You did the right thing! I was in geriatric care for many years and I agree 100% with you: I have seen oh so many patients getting admitted for minor things and leaving the hospital more confused and frail than they walked in...also thank you for posting this, people don't trust themselves when going against the doctor but it is important to know that doctors decisions are sometimes motivated by the fear of lawsuits. The best advocate for your ( or a loved one's )well being is YOURSELF!

(12) David W, October 24, 2011 10:31 PM


I am a doctor. Of course you did the right thing. At 96 medicine is more likely to do harm than good.

(11) Anonymous, October 24, 2011 8:18 PM


Dear Rabbi, Your mother was 96! Rejoice! How many son's get to see their mother's get so far? You did the right thing and the doctor did the right thing by agreeing with you.

(10) Anonymous, October 24, 2011 8:02 PM

You did the right thing!

As a visiting nurse I can tell you, I think you were absolutely right! The hospital is not a great place for someone to hang out for a few days. They should have been able to determine in the emergency room if there were any broken bones, or internal bleeding. Many people pick up nasty infections there, lose their mobility because they won't let you walk around, and are in general often mishandled. I would just add one more word of caution. If you ever do have a loved one in the hospital, don't leave them alone. Question any and every medication that they are being given and every test that is ordered and don't be afraid to refuse until you get another opinion!

(9) Aliza, October 24, 2011 4:05 PM

good for you

it sounds like you made a very intelligent choice. I think I would do that too, given the same situation. kol hakovod

(8) Just me, October 24, 2011 3:01 PM

Going AMA

My husband has been ill for four years. He has a degenerative disease, without cure, and the only treatment is to slow it down. So, when they want to continue testing for G-d knows what, he says NO. If there is no treatment or cure, he is just not willing to spend a week of his days in a hospital being subjected to tests. He goes AMA a lot. and hard as it is for me, because i think "maybe this time..." I cannot force him. I suppose that my short answer should have been sometimes it is the reasonable thing to do.

(7) Anonymous, October 24, 2011 2:48 PM

Yasher Koach! She was frail and elderly. I didn't hear you say whether the testing would be invasive, but why should an elderly person have to put up with more testing than perhaps necessary? I believe there is a lot to be said for helping such an individual live out his/her last days as comfortably as possible, and that was what you did. You and your brother most certainly made the right decision. Thank you for sharing your experience in this forum.

(6) Alan S., October 24, 2011 2:35 PM

there should be no controversy at all

Rabbi Solomon, this is not a controversial video at all. You knew (and in my opinion were corrrect) that the specific situation really did not call for testing your mother. Many tests are of course done for, well, for lack of a better way of saying it, for 'academic' purposes. On the record, the hospital and doctors had to protect their backsides, so to speak. The resident or attending that spoke with you privately told you the truth. There should be no controversy at all in this situation. Were your mom in her sixties of seventies, your thought process likely would have been very different. As you disclaimed, of course there will be times when it is wrong to go against medical advice, but this was not one of those times. Now, what is truly sad in this world is that there are people that would sue if things did sour after a hospital or doctor common-sense wise told them, in a similar situation, to take their 96 y.o. mother home and then the mother suffered a stroke. These people would be the first to scream malpractice. You are not one of these people; you are to be commended.

(5) Anonymous, October 24, 2011 6:52 AM

something similar happened to someone i know when he was brought to the hospital by someone that was taking care of him. His granddaughter had to come and take him out of there. He had a cough and just needed moist air to clear his lungs.

(4) Chavi, October 23, 2011 7:44 PM

Never trust the ER

ER doctors, as a group, are notorious for their incompetence and poor judgement. If you were getting advice from a competent doctor with a proven track record, you should probably give his opinion and advice a lot more credenceand consider following it. But never, ever discount your gut feeling. You knew your mother over a much longer period of time, the medical situations she had faced and dealt with over the course of her life, and how she had responded to them in the past. That is at least as much specific medical knowledge as any medical doctor has, no matter how competent and experienced he is. If the contest is between your gut feeling and a wet-behind-the ears resident, it is a no-brainer. And even she recognized that you were making the right decision, but she is tyro enough to feel intimidated into spouting the hospital-proscribed line which is in place to protect the hospital, but not necessarily your mother. There is no question that you made the right choice. (By the way, I miss your mother so very much. She was such a great lady with such an indomitable spirit.)

(3) lisa, October 23, 2011 5:28 PM

CORRECTION (Doctors just "practice" medicine)

Just replayed the video....sorry that your mother passed away......You made the right choice.....you knew her better than the Doctors.....you knew she'd be OK!! You used your instinct.....that itself is a precious gift. Good for you!!! Again, there is no app on the iPhone for using our brain!! Kol Tov!

(2) lisa, October 23, 2011 5:16 PM

Doctors just "practice" medicine!!

You listened to your instinct...GOOD FOR YOU!!!!! Isn't that why we have a "gut feeling?" Youre a smart man & you used your brain.....there are no iPhone apps for that!! I applaud you & I hope your mother is feeling great and is very proud of her children!!

(1) david, October 23, 2011 3:03 PM

There is none - what if you were wrong

Doctors spend years of their lives studying medicne and their opinions are important. Tests and protocals are ran for a reason. Yes there maybe some worthless tests that are run purely out of protocal and for fear of being sued, but alot of them are run to make sure nothing is deeply wrong. What if your intuition or feeling in your stomach was wrong and there was something very wrong with her. what if she walked out of the hospital and went into a cardiac arrhythmia and g-d forbid perished. How would you feel then? For my two cents, better to be safe than sorry.


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