A new analysis of racial disparities in end-of-life care finds that Black patients voluntarily seek substantially more intensive treatment, such as mechanical ventilation, feeding tube insertion, kidney dialysis, CPR and multiple emergency room visits in the last six months of life, while white patients more often choose hospice services.
The study’s researchers say the findings demonstrate the disparities seen in seeking end-of-life care in the U.S., despite an overall increase nationwide toward the use of hospice care regardless of diagnosis, but especially for non-cancer deaths. Continue reading
You may have heard about Jeopardy host Alex Trebec’s announcement this year that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It’s a devastating disease, with only about a 9% relative five-year survival rate for those at any stage of the disease, and an even more dismal 3% five-year survival rate for those in a late stage like Trebec, according to the American Cancer Society.
While surgery may not be viable for someone in such a late stage of the disease, Trebec, 78, has vowed to fight hard to beat it. CBS News reported that chemotherapy and radiation may still be viable treatments. Symptom management through palliative care will also play a key role for him, as it does for tens of thousands of other cancer patients and millions of people with other debilitating diseases. Continue reading
Death is not something most people want to think about, let alone read about in the local newspaper. Reporting on end-of-life issues takes sensitivity, sound editorial judgement, patience and tenacity to develop relationships with patients and families, to share their stories and for them to allow a virtual stranger into their lives during such an intimate time.
Luanne Rife, health reporter at The Roanoke Times, not only wrote extensively about these issues, she gave readers a close-up view of the process through intimate and memorable profiles. Continue reading
Photo: George Bush Presidential Library via FlickrFormer First Lady Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday, announced two days earlier that she had ended curative treatment for life-threatening health issues in favor of what was described as “comfort care.”
Death may be the price we pay for life. But many physicians still regard death as a kind of failure. For families and patients, decisions about the management of serious illness and death can seem forbidding and difficult.
Even so, timely discussion of options such as palliative care and hospice care can offer deeply meaningful choices to people navigating life-threatening and terminal illnesses, according to experts on “The Increasing Demand for Palliative Care,” panel last week during Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix.
“The model I am trying to promote … is earlier conversation,” said Robert Shannon, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and palliative medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla. Continue reading
Updated hospice compare data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had been slated for release on Nov. 21 but was delayed due to what CMS has described as “technical problems.”
Whether you use previous data or analyze forthcoming statistics, what these federal quality measures do not show is just as important as what they do, according to a new AHCJ tip sheet by journalist Cheryl Clark. Continue reading