End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Palliative Care Grand Rounds: Patient Empowerment Editionby Sonja

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Compassion & Choices is honored to be hosting this month’s Palliative Care Grand Rounds–the awesome little (and big) nuggets of great blogging on all things hospice and palliative care. As a consumer advocacy organization, C&C is very big on empowering patients to make their own end-of-life decisions.  In fact, it’s one of the main parts of our mission.  We’re thrilled that are so many others promoting patient-centered care, too.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the efforts of these fantastic bloggers who’ve done great work in October educating the online community about all thing hospice and palliative care.

Note: there was a lot of great stuff to choose from this month! It was tough to get everything into one post. Please feel free to add more in comments.

KevinMD is one of the daily must-read blogs around here. It’s one of the most thoughtful and informative medical blogs writing about end-of-life care.  They’re a group blog effort, so there’s a lot of flavor to the writing.  The recent Patients need more accurate information about their prognosis by Kevin Pho, MD and the guest-posted Every patient deserves a death with dignity and without pain by Dr. George Lundberg, MD are two standout pieces. Well worth your time to read.

With Dumb Medicine: Screening for Cancer in Patients already Diagnosed with Incurable Cancer, Alex Smith posts a head-scratching piece (really, click through and view the image) on the baffling way that cancer patients continue to receive futile cancer screenings.  The study which brought this issue to light also hypothesized, “…that neither primary care physicians nor oncologists routinely engage in the difficult discussions that require explanation of why continuation of procedures to which patients have become accustomed to is no longer necessary. There is substantial evidence that even when physicians recognize that life expectancy is limited, they do not consistently communicate prognosis, and patients may use denial as a coping strategy to face impending loss.” Yikes.

Halloween is a holiday that plays up all things spooky, scary and sometimes creepy, at least in the US. But in some places, its a time of year to celebrate and honor the dead.  In her post entitled, Holy Halloween: a Day to Dance with Death, Donna Hennes outlines a number of the ways different cultures embrace and discuss death, as well as those who have gone before us.

The Elder Law Prof blog directed us to some very inspirational “badass dudes and dudettes“, who’ve conquered old age and some other stuff, too.

The outcry for the need for comprehensive end-of-life conversations continued in October as well. Here’s Alexandra Drane at the Wall Street Journal blog and Prof. Thaddeus Pope at the Medical Futility Blog on the issue. Also, click through to see this video of Dr. Atul Gawande explaining how health care workers should be talking with patients about their end-of-life wishes.  Oh so very good.

Finally, a little indulgence.  Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) was the keynote speaker at the Compassion & Choices-Oregon luncheon in October.  It’s a moving, wonderful speech that speaks to the need for patient choice and autonomy at the end-of-life. Click through and enjoy.