A recent New York Times blog http://well.blogs.nytimes.com* vignette read: “For 15 years Anna was a solitary figure sitting at the far end of our waiting room for her annual checkups, having shaved a half-hour off her workday so she could hustle over before we locked our doors.”
“One of them would sleep in Anna’s hospital room at night and another would come by in the morning. At lunchtime more would wander in, and by the middle of the afternoon it was standing room only in Anna’s half of the semiprivate accommodations on 10A. When she was moved to the I.C.U. the whole mass of them decamped into the waiting room down the hall, a tide of Anna-focused humanity surging in and out with the day. Somebody, usually one of her daughters, was deputized to sit by the bed, waiting outside the cubicle when the nurses had work to do, then coming right back in.
‘It could have been worse, I suppose, but it could have been much better. In the best of hindsight-enabled worlds, we would have had the sense (or, possibly, the correct phrase would be “the power”) to ease that mass of loving family away from the bed and have a long, frank talk with Anna, then a long, sad discussion with a single selected spokesman (that selection alone has been known to fracture families into irreparable shards). We would have curtailed all the extra treatments we piled on. She would have died weeks sooner and far more peacefully than she did.”
* to read the full NYTs article “Too Much Family Love” by Abigal Zuger, highlight and click on open hyperlink http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/too-much-family-love/?_php=true&_type=blogs&hpw&rref=health&_r=0