"Palliative Care is an often misunderstood specialty, focused on providing support and pain management strategies to cancer patients throughout all stages of their illness. This approach, which can be blended into curative cancer therapy, focuses on care for the whole person: mind, body, and spirit."
Palliative Care is the future of medicine "It has social and political dimensions that spring from its grounding in a commitment to relieve total pain, which includes spiritual pain."
"We’ve seen too many patients regret decisions that they made without fully understanding their options, or the possible outcome. We encourage our patients, and our colleagues, to be partners in what are often life-changing decisions about health care."
Read the full article The New York Times
"All of us face the difficult prospect of a parent or loved one suffering from an illness that ultimately leads to death. When that time comes, we will want to ease their physical and emotional pain, respect their wishes, and allow them to die with dignity — the same things we will want for ourselves.
The way that Americans die has changed but, unfortunately, our medical system hasn’t kept up. It was designed at a time when death was often sudden or declines in health were relatively rapid. These days it is much more common for people to live longer with multiple chronic conditions, and we have the technology to prolong life as death approaches. End-of-life care is fragmented, intensive, and costly — and patients’ wishes are often lost due to poor communication."
Read the complete article at: STAT
“ ‘Because by that time the patient is too sick to be able to have a voice in their own care, their family members have never had this discussion with the patient because no one guided them,’ said Periyakoil. ‘So as a result, they're sort of making these very high stakes decisions in the dark. They, because they love the patient so much, are caught up in the deep, emotional trauma and it's very hard for them to be able to make decisions.’
If family members can’t speak on behalf of the patient, Periyakoil says aggressive, heroic measures will generally be used to prolong the patient’s life.
‘The system default is to do everything possible, every treatment possible, even though the treatment might be ineffective and the treatment may be something the patient doesn't want,’ said Periyakoil.”
"As physicians, we must explore our patients’ reasons for wanting to be discharged and have open and truthful conversations with them. We assume that keeping them in the hospital is always better for their health. But health encompasses the physical, mental and psychological.
In the end, my patient’s leaving was not about our therapeutic alliance. It was not about me at all. It was about her, the patient, as it should be."
"Modern medicine, however, still shies away from discussions about natural death and dying, and is more comfortable in the realms of what can be done. Doing something always trumps doing nothing. Healthcare professionals have become willing interventionists, and we cannot stop meddling, interfering and attempting to fix.
Many people I speak to presume that if the label “Not for CPR” or “DNACPR” (Do Not Attempt CPR) is added to their notes, this might preclude them from other resuscitative treatments such as antibiotics, fluids and blood transfusions. Dispelling this myth takes time and reassurance. Patients can still have active, resuscitative measures if they become increasingly unwell, but remain not for CPR for when their heart stops".
"As I have become more involved with this work, I have wondered whether the CEO of a large health plan is the right person to talk about end-of-life care. But I only have to remember how important this issue was to my brother and my parents to realize that — in this case at least — my personal experience should inform my professional actions. Everyone, regardless of economic, cultural, racial, or geographic differences, must have their choices and values heard and respected. Everyone deserves the chance to live the best life possible, to the very end".
"There are apps for nearly everything -- ordering food, catching rides and finding dates, to name just a few of the common tasks people accomplish via a swipe of a screen. Now, a Boston-based company wants to make thinking about and planning for death just as simple.
Cake, as in “a piece of cake,” is a website and soon-to-launch app that asks people a series of yes-or-no questions about the end of their lives in order to help them think about certain issues, plans and needs. The topics include funeral preferences and financial planning, as well as whether there are places people want to see before dying and how satisfied they would be with their relationships if they died tomorrow.
'One of the biggest problems right now is that even if you want to have these conversations, most of us have no idea where to start. It's daunting and overwhelming,' Chen said.
'Even though we know ourselves, we may not truly understand our own values around end of life because most of us haven't spent much time thinking about it. We developed the app as a way to ease people into thinking about the end of life'.
The app is targeted toward users who want to talk about dying to their loved ones, as well as those who want to share their end-of life-wishes with their doctors and caretakers.
'We interviewed dozens of health care professionals and routinely heard doctors say that bringing up advance care planning ‘is the hardest part of my job.’ Even doctors who are trained in how to have these conversations find it challenging to bring up,' Chen said. 'Additionally, there's often not a lot of time at the doctor's office. It makes sense to provide a synchronous tools that empower people to think about things on their own and with their families while they're in the waiting room, or at home'.”