Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Slide for End-of-Life Conversations

So, for all of you who are already gathering with loved ones this holiday weekend, why not take some time to discuss your wishes for end-of-life care?

Engage with Grace has put together a helpful, simple, five-step slide to start the conversation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York Advance Cancer Patients More Likely to Die in ICU

A study just published by Dartmouth College shows that advance stage cancer patients in New York state are more likely to die in an ICU than the average patient nationwide. In New York, more than 46% of these patients are dying in ICU, compared to 29% nationally.

The ICU care costs more and is a greater drain on state resources, and these cost issues are forcing the Healthcare Association of New York State to take notice of this disparity. So, we may have a case in which a bankrupt healthcare system is pushing us toward better end-of-life care for patients, in some instances. I think this section of the article sums the issue up nicely:

"Under pressure to cut costs, New York's hospital industry is finally welcoming a new focus on palliative care.

That means letting patients and their families know when medicine has reached its limits and spelling out the options, which include foregoing drastic interventions that would cause patients to spend their last days in expensive intensive care. Recognizing it's a sensitive issue, hospitals are making a point of saying they do not prevent patients from choosing interventions. The idea is to help people make the best choices for themselves, said Dr. Tia Powell, a medical ethicist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Personalizing your "deathbed"

A fascinating article from the New York Times about people going to major lengths to create a personalized space in which to die. The individual examples are fun to read through. But more than that, I think this article is yet another reminder of the beautiful work that hospice caretakers and social workers do for the sick and dying every day. Because these scenarios would not be possible without their help.

P.S. This photo is just about my absolute nightmare scenario for where I could be when I die. Am I alone in this?
(Photo from NY Times.)