End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

newsletter

Aging in America Conference Features Panel on Rise of Unwanted Patient Care

What:  

Aging in America Conference panel sponsored by the Compassion and Choices: “What is Patient- and Family-Centered Care and What Happens When We Fail to Prevent It?” Patient-centered care should not include unwanted medical treatment and unnecessary suffering. Yet millions of Americans with advanced illnesses or who are terminally ill:

  • Suffer needlessly from undertreated pain and other agonizing symptoms;
  • Undergo pointless and costly invasive tests and treatments, often in their last days and hours; and
  • Have their treatment preferences or advance directives ignored or overridden by healthcare professionals and others.

Why:   

A new study published in Feb. in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining Medicare claims data found that between the years 2000 and 2009 treatment in acute care hospitals decreased while the usage of intensive care units (ICU) and healthcare transitions the last month of life increased. An accompanying Journal of American Medical Association editorial, “Changes in End-of-Life Care Over the Past Decade More Not Better,” concluded: “The focus appears to be on providing curative care in the acute hospital regardless of likelihood of benefit or preferences of patients. If programs aimed at reducing unnecessary care are to be successful, patients’ goals of care must be elicited and treatment options such as palliative and hospice care offered earlier in the process than is the current norm.”

Who:  

Mickey MacIntyre, Chief Program Officer, Compassion & Choices (read his testimony about how unwanted medical treatment at life’s end causes needless costly suffering before the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Cares);
Lynn Feinberg, MSW, Sr. Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute;
Brian Lindberg, MMHS, Exec. Dir., Consumer Coalition for Quality Health Care;
Andrew MacPherson, Director of Government Affairs at Jennings Policy Strategies Inc.

Where:

Crystal C (West Tower/Green Level), Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr.

When:  

Friday, March 15, 1pm-2pm CT. If you cannot attend panel but want an interview Tuesday (March 12) Wednesday (March 13), Thursday (March 14) or Friday (March 15) with Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey MacIntyre, please contact Sean Crowley: 202-550-6524, seancrowley57@gmail.com.

How:   

If you want to attend panel, but have not registered yet for the Aging in America Conference, please contact Jutka Mándoki: jutkam@asaging.org, 312-239-4834.

Making Our Mark Nationwide

by Compassion & Choices staff
March 7, 2013

Compassion & Choices’ dedicated campaigners and advocates are advancing aid-in-dying legislation in states across the country. The 2013 state legislative sessions have been some of the most active and productive on end-of-life issues, and they are gaining notice from the national media. The campaigns prove to legislators the overwhelming support for end-of-life choice and recruit new supporters to the movement to expand the full range of end-of-life options for all Americans.

Compassion & Choices’ legal advocacy successfully clarified that aid in dying is a legal medical practice in Montana through the 2009 Baxter decision. Ever since, opponents have been trying to roll back this right. This session opponents are trying, but Compassion & Choices Montana is meeting them head-on. In fact, the Montana House passed an abhorrent bill that would imprison doctors for up to ten years for providing aid in dying.  Compassion & Choices advocates generated bi-partisan opposition to the bill in the House and are leading efforts to stop the bill in the Senate and if necessary secure a veto from the governor. Citizens and doctors have spoken out: an op-ed by seven Montana physicians denouncing the bill ran in papers across the state on February 27. Advocates are working round-the-clock to defeat what is in essence “The Physician Imprisonment Act of 2013.”

A bill that would bring more end-of-life choice to Vermont passed the Senate on a 22 – 8 vote and was referred to the House Committee on Human Services on February 19. Compassion & Choices will provide ongoing support to our friends at Patient Choices Vermont for a wide-reaching publicity campaign to move this bill to the governor, who has pledged to sign it. More

Compassion & Choices Takes Campaign to Honor Patients’ Wishes to Premier Health Care Venues

by Compassion & Choices staff
March 7, 2013

Compassion & Choices staff and advocates elevated the importance of honoring patients’ wishes before several of the most prestigious audiences in the health care field, driving home the imperative to end unwanted medical treatment.

The influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) has re-formed its Committee on Transforming End-of-Life Care, which in 1997 issued a significant report from its previous work. During its first public hearing February 20, Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Mickey MacIntyre advised the committee that “many patients’ decisions are overridden or ignored in the weeks and months before their deaths … for a variety of reasons and can lead to invasive and fruitless testing, needless suffering, unrelenting pain and a prolonging of the period before death. Patients are tethered to monitors and machines despite their determination to reject unwanted treatment.” More

Profile: Connecticut Campaign Manager Tim Appleton

by Compassion & Choices staff
March 7, 2013

Years of effort and 67% citizen support position Connecticut with a very real chance of passing aid-in-dying legislation. Even with an impassioned majority, however, strong leadership is necessary to ultimately achieve success. Compassion & Choices is fortunate to have a cadre of talented experts across the country working to secure the full range of end-of-life options for the citizens of their states. Tim Appleton, our Connecticut campaign manager, brings more than a decade of experience organizing campaigns at the local, state and national levels, including, John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.  He works with a bounty of invaluable fellow advocates to help expand choice.

We spoke to Tim recently about his work, the crucial role of volunteers and how his passion for activism started early:

“My mother organized a teachers union for the college where she taught, Bryant & Stratton in Buffalo, New York. So ever since I was a kid, I was exposed to campaign organizing in my living room. My mom was also one of the initial organizers for Planned Parenthood in Western New York. She set a good example about getting involved and being a part of things that are bigger than just your own immediate family. As a result of that experience, I have been drawn to progressive causes that have been near and dear to my heart.

I’d been working at the state Capitol for several years when a good friend of mine contracted liver cancer. In Connecticut, to honor people, you can buy a U.S. flag and have it flown over the state Capitol, and as my friend was an U.S. Army veteran, it was very moving for the entire family when the flag was presented to him and his family. At that point I’d been talking to Jessica Grennan, the Compassion & Choices States Campaign Manager, about Compassion & Choices.  Although my friend and I never spoke about death with dignity, I realized then Connecticut could do more for those at end of life than just present a flag.  We should offer choice to others at end of life, and that is one of the big reasons I got involved. More