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Timing is Everything: Improving the quality and timeliness of critical end-of-life conversations

End-of-Life Talks DOA? New System Seeks Remedy Bridget M. Kuehn March 15, 2016, Medscape http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860405 CHICAGO — An intervention that included physician training, a system for identifying patients nearing the end of life, and electronic medical record prompts led to more and earlier end-of-life discussions, according to new research. In a cluster-randomized trial, a systematic intervention involving the discussion of end-of-life care was compared with usual care in adult oncology outpatients. Results …Read More

Changing the Conversation from “What’s the Matter?” to “What Matters?”

A Vision for “What Matters to You?” What if every clinician, staff member, and community health worker routinely asked, “What matters to you?” — and listened attentively at every encounter with individuals and their family members? What would we learn? How would understanding “What Matters” enhance our ability to develop genuine partnerships with individual patients? Clinicians, health care staff, and community health workers around the world seek to understand the …Read More

Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End-Of-Life Discussions

(originally published by NPR on JULY 06, 2015) Dr. Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky recalls the anguish she felt performing CPR on elderly, terminally ill patients. It looks nothing like what we see on TV. In real life, ribs often break and few survive the ordeal. “I felt like I was beating up people at the end of their life,” she says. “I would be doing the CPR with tears coming down sometimes, and …Read More

Experts on Dying, Aging as They Lived – from the New York Times Opinionator

By ALEXANDRA BUTLER JUNE 17, 2015 At 10 years old I knew my parents did not wish to be resuscitated nor plugged into machines in the event of serious illness. They told me they were not afraid of death but rather of being kept alive at any cost. I knew they would refuse medical interventions, if they felt there was no purpose except to separate the dying from their deaths. They were …Read More

Wisconsin is learning how to die

La Crosse is a small town in western Wisconsin, right on the Minnesota border. It has about 51,000 residents. And La Crosse has, over the past three decades, done something remarkable: nearly all its residents have a plan for how they want to die. “One of our doctors recently told me that making a plan is just like taking blood pressure or doing allergy tests,” says Bud Hammes, a medical …Read More

We Need To Talk About How You Want To Die

It’s a discussion that most people avoid: end-of-life planning. Doctors say it’s important to have these conversations while you’re still able. But let’s face it, talking about advanced directives can be uncomfortable, even terrifying. KUOW’s Ruby DeLuna talks with Dr. Joanne Roberts of Providence Hospital in Everett and Dr. Randall Curtis at Harborview about having the conversation – with patients, and with their own families. Click here to read the story and hear …Read More

Meet the cancer patient in Room 52: His name is Joseph, but call him Joe

Hooked up to machines and a breathing tube, Joseph Mox, 55, can’t talk to the doctors and nurses bustling around a Johns Hopkins intensive care unit. But they know he likes to be called Joe, enjoys “NCIS” and relied on his Catholic faith through bouts of colon and esophageal cancer. And they jokingly ask him for a good deal on brakes because they know he used to manage a truck-parts …Read More

The Right Paperwork for Your End-of-Life Wishes

There is much confusion around this issue among patients and their families, and unfortunately among physicians as well. Which form is the right one? Who should have a copy? An advance directive – each state has its own – is indeed an important legal document. Like any insurance policy, it is intended to prepare its owners in advance for difficult times. Read the full opinion piece here…