End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

News and Opinion Support End-of-Life Consultation Provisionby Blaine

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Importance of End-of-Life Decisions
By Herbert Mathewson, Cape Cod Times, September 17, 2009

The twisted, cynical label of “death panels” being used against the proposed Health Care Reform bill (HR 3020) is apparently based on a single item in its 1,000-plus pages that proposes to reimburse physicians, through Medicare, for any time spent counseling their patients about end-of-life-decisions. Since the offering of such counseling has been mandated since 1990 by the Federal Patient Self-Determination Act, it hardly seems like a radical idea. That 1990 legislation explicitly recognized the patient’s right to refuse treatment and mandated hospitals to inform the patient about that right and to urge patients to create an Advance Directive, i.e., designate a Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts.

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“Granny Squads” and “Death Councils” Don’t Exist
By Gloria and Al Boersch, Denver Post, September 18, 2009

Being afraid of “granny squads” or “death councils” is like being afraid of alien body snatchers hiding under the bed or in the closet. They don’t exist, nor has anyone proposed establishing such a thing. They are nothing but cartoon characters that appear in popular horror stories created by political opportunists and some radio celebrities. We know something about “end of life counseling” because long ago (1985?) we helped to establish the first hospital ethics committee in Ft Collins, and we have many times participated in counseling families who sought us out. We also put into place a policy that is now routine. At the time of admission the hospital asks the patient if they have a living will or a durable power of attorney. No one is required to have either; the hospital simply enters the answer in the patient’s medical record.

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