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Changes to End of Life Health Care

Last update on: Mar 15 2020

A panel appointed by the Institute of Medicine issued a report recently calling for major changes in end-of-life health care in the U.S. The report says that the current system is broken, leading it to cost far too much while not giving patients the care they really need or want. Its basic assertion is that there is too much care given near the end of life when that care won’t do much to improve life or increase life spans.

It called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs” and the elimination of “perverse financial incentives” that encourage expensive hospital procedures when growing numbers of very sick and very old patients want low-tech services like home health care and pain management.

And it said that medical schools and groups that accredit and regulate health providers should greatly increase training in palliative care and set standards so that more clinicians know how to compassionately and effectively treat patients who want to be made comfortable but avoid extensive medical procedures.

The 507-page report, “Dying in America,” said its recommendations would improve the quality of care and better satisfy more patients and families. It also said the changes would produce significant savings that would help make health care more affordable.



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