End-of-Life Care in America

Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by Mark R. Friedman

A committee appointed by the National Academy of Sciences found that the U.S. healthcare system is poorly designed to meet the needs of patients near the end of life, the New York Times reported.

For people at the end of their life, our healthcare system provides incentives for doctors to perform complex, invasive, expensive procedures in the hospital, when what most dying people really want is pain relief and care at home, the committee reportedly found.

In surveys of doctors about their own end-of-life preferences, “a vast majority want to be at home and as free of pain as possible, and yet that’s not what doctors practice,” said Dr. Phillip Pizzo, a committee co-chairman.

The committee made recommendations on aligning the healthcare system closer to end-of-life patients’ goals, including changes to what Medicare and Medicaid pay for.  Many of the recommendations involve making palliative care more affordable and accessible.  Palliative care is healthcare that seeks to relieve the patient’s pain, rather than cure the patient’s illness.

The committee also stressed the importance of advance healthcare planning, and recommended that Medicare pay doctors to discuss advance planning with patients.  At FriedmanLaw, we also believe in the importance of planning, including having an advance directive for healthcare.

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