slow medicine
n. Medical care that focuses on the patient and on giving comfort and palliative care rather than on technology and aggressive treatments.

Example Citations:
Edie Gieg, 85, strides ahead of people half her age and plays a fast-paced game of tennis. But when it comes to health care, she is a champion of "slow medicine," an approach that encourages less aggressive — and less costly — care at the end of life.

Grounded in research at the Dartmouth Medical School, slow medicine encourages physicians to put on the brakes when considering care that may have high risks and limited rewards for the elderly, and it educates patients and families how to push back against emergency room trips and hospitalizations designed for those with treatable illnesses, not the inevitable erosion of advanced age.
—Jane Gross, "For the Elderly, Being Heard About Life's End," The New York Times, May 5, 2008

While it may not have the political juice of the right to die, what some are calling "Slow Medicine" gets closer to the matter at hand. Slow medicine is to our usual approach to medical care what slow food is to a culture of fast food. It is an alternative that asks basic questions about how we have got ourselves organized and programmed this way.

The fast medicine approach is all about cure, dramatic interventions, and get it done now. It is, after all, "a matter of life and death." Fast medicine means doing everything that can be done to stave off mortality, no matter how expensive or painful. It means if we can do a particular medical intervention or procedure, we should.

Slow medicine puts the emphasis less on cure than on care and comfort. It means thinking twice about entering a regimen of chemotherapy or having standing instructions to call 911 when someone has a cardiac arrest. If fast medicine has accomplished great things and makes a lot of sense in some situations, it's not such a good fit for people in their 80s or 90s who may be better off surrounded with comfort and care than with Ivs, heart monitors and all the apparatus that goes with the modern intensive-care unit.
—Anthony B. Robinson, "Big battle over right to die misses the point," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 10, 2008

Earliest Citation:
Turn off your cell phone, and stop posting on your blog (assortedmusings.com): London-based journalist Honore sings the praises of slow food (yum), slow medicine (you'll feel better in 2010), slow reading (take 25 minutes to read this paragraph—it's worth it!), and slow sex (zzz).
—"Shortlist," Village Voice, May 18, 2004

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