Dignity First

Most End-of-Life Care in U.S. Neglects Patient Needs

The U.S. healthcare system is not properly designed to meet the needs of patients nearing the end of life and those of their families, and major changes to the system are necessary, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.

A 21-member committee has called for more advanced end-of-life care planning by individuals, improved training and credentialing for clinicians, and for governments and private sectors to provide incentives to patients and clinicians to discuss issues, values, preferences and appropriate services and care.

Dr. Philip Pizzo, co-chair of the committee, states, “Patients can and should take control of the quality of their life through their entire lifetime, choosing how they live and how they die, and doctors should help initiate discussions with their patients about such decisions.”

Susan Heckerman, former dean of medicine at Stanford University, says, “It’s important that healthcare options available to individuals facing the end of life help relieve pain and discomfort, maximize the individual’s ability to function, alleviate depression and anxiety, and ease the burdens of loved ones in a manner consistent with individual preferences and choices.”

The report is available at Tinyurl.com/DyingInAmerica.

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