As a result of advances in public health and the development of lifesaving medical technology, Americans live longer than ever. Death, when it comes, often follows a chronic or progressive illness.
Unfortunately, the care received near the end of life often does not reflect a person’s values, goals, and informed preferences. Although the majority of people say they would prefer to die at home, two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries die elsewhere, such as a hospital’s intensive care unit. People frequently endure unwanted treatment and suffer from inadequate pain management and shortness of breath, which often puts an enormous stress on family caregivers. A fragmented medical system and a lack of communication among doctors, patients, and families may result in less than optimal patient experience. But difficulties in the health care system may also be caused by the reluctance of patients, families, and doctors to discuss options and the alternatives to further treatment. Having these conversations early in the course of a serious illness is important, because most people who are near death are unable to communicate their wishes.
Pew seeks to improve end-of-life care by advocating for policies that help people make informed decisions about their treatment preferences, improve the documentation of these preferences, and hold health care providers accountable for honoring patient wishes and delivering high-quality care. Additionally, the project will highlight innovative ways of providing care to seriously ill people and their families as the patients reach the end of their lives.
The Pew Charitable Trusts today announced its support for the Compassionate Care Act of 2016 in a letter to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The bipartisan bill addresses a number of federal policy issues concerning advanced illness, including creation of quality measures and expansion of innovative palliative and end-of-life... Read More
Pew supports efforts to help clinicians develop the skills they need for advance care planning. Read More
Polls show that most Americans believe it’s important for families to plan for serious illness and end-of-life care. But having these discussions, which are sensitive and often somber, can be difficult. Since 2008, National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), on April 16, has reminded us of the need for each of us to talk with our loved ones about the care we would—and would... Read More