The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the nation’s highest authority on health and medical matters, gave a mighty endorsement of the issues Compassion & Choices has been working to transform for decades. C&C representatives testified at multiple field hearings during the panel’s research phase.
Its new report, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life, was released in September and examined the “mismatch between the services patients and families need and the services they can obtain.” Its conclusion? End-of-life care in America is deficient at every level and requires sweeping changes.
The IOM panel included doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and other experts, and urged incentives for healthcare providers to discuss advance care planning, and to eliminate the “perverse financial incentives” for overtreating very sick people who only want pain management and home healthcare. “The current system is geared towards doing more, more, more, and that system by definition is not necessarily consistent with what patients want, and is also more costly,” said David M. Walker, a former United States comptroller general, who chaired the panel.
“Patients don’t die in the manner they prefer,” Dr. Victor J. Dzau, IOM president, said. “The time is now for our nation to develop a modernized end-of-life care system.”