Hot Topics: End of Life Care

Blog Posts (65)

July 16, 2014

de Beauvoir’s A Very Easy Death

My dissertation advisor recommended that I read Simone de Beauvoir’s A Very Easy Death when I was writing my dissertation on ambivalence. …

June 16, 2014

MEDICAL FUTILITY, THEN AND NOW

by Barron H. Lerner, M.D., Ph.D.

When an article promoting the idea of medical futility appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1990, my father was thrilled. …

May 21, 2014

National Healthcare Decisions Day: The Need to Reach New Audiences

<p>The seventh annual <a href="http://www.nhdd.org/">National Healthcare Decisions Day</a> (NHDD) was held on April 16<sup>th</sup> of this year, and events at national, state and local levels were held to educate people about the importance of advance care planning and encourage participants to complete advance directives. Providing resources and information that drives home the message about how important it is to let others know one’s preferences for healthcare and end of life care is intended to promote conversation and documentation of these wishes which are then implemented when the individual is no longer able to express preferences for themselves. But does it do enough to generate interest in those who prefer to avoid such unpleasantries?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Repeated studies show that advance directive completion rates are low in the US. People simply do not like to talk about end of life, and it is not clear that the NHDD, however well intended, is making the topic any more palatable. Designating a day to recognize the importance of advance directives is an important start, and the materials are often excellent. <a href="https://www.agingwithdignity.org/five-wishes.php">Five wishes</a>, for example, gives a carefully crafted set of questions to help people thoughtfully consider what matters most to them when it comes to medical intervention, particularly in the end of life context. Still, this only works if people come to the table for the conversation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>
May 20, 2014

What we are forgetting in the case of Jahi McMath: Culture and its impact on medical decision-making

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Like many others, I followed the very unfortunate case of Jahi McMath. McMath is a 13 year-old black child who went into cardiac arrest and suffered irreparable brain damage after undergoing a tonsillectomy to relieve sleep apnea.…

May 5, 2014

New York Medical Futility Bill Highlights Wide Variation in U.S. End-of-Life Decisions Laws

by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD

On May 1, 2014, New York State Senator Kemp Hannon introduced S.B. 7156, to amend the 2010 Family Healthcare Decisions Act. …

May 1, 2014

Lessons for the Future of Primary Care from Robin Cook’s Cell

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

I just finished reading the popular fiction novel Cell by Robin Cook. This medical thriller revolves around George Wilson, a radiology resident who finds people dying suddenly after receiving diagnoses of terminal illnesses including his fiancé and next-door-neighbor.…

April 21, 2014

Senator Advances Bill To Pay Medicare Beneficiaries to Register Advance Directives

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) along with Senators Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a bill to the U.S.…

April 17, 2014

National Health Care Decisions: A Week of Dying in America

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

This week is host is National Healthcare Decisions Day. The goal of this April 16th event is to “inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.” Events are being held nation-wide to encourage people to complete advance directive forms as well as to have conversations with their friends and family about end-of-life health care wishes.…

March 17, 2014

Death Panels: Can We Handle the Truth?

by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD

In December, I defended the term “death panel” on this blog.  Specifically, I demonstrated that we already have, and for over 50 years have had, quite a number of tribunals that act as death panels. …

March 9, 2014

How LaCrosse Wisconsin sets a new example when it comes to Advance Directives

<p>As a clinical ethicist, many of the requests for assistance that come my way have to do with advance directives, either the lack of any documented wishes, incomplete or unfamiliar forms, or otherwise confusing messages about what a patient truly wants when it comes to life sustaining medical treatment. Too often, my help is needed when the patient is no longer able to tell others what he or she wants and does not want. On one such call, a group of compassionate nurses and I sifted through a charts to see what we could learn about a particular patient’s known wishes. In the course of our conversation, a nurse asked me if I had heard about LaCrosse, Wisconsin where 98% of the town’s population has advance directives. After giving me a quick summary between her own patient charting, delivering meds, and coordinating a pending admission, she printed the article. For anyone who missed it (like me) the link is here: <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/03/05/286126451/living-wills-are-the-talk-of-the-town-in-la-crosse-wis">LaCrosse Wisconsin on NPR</a>.</p> <p><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>