Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ira Byock and Elliott Fisher Talk About Better EOL Care

From Thaddeus Pope, this link to a conversation on better end of life care.

Labels: ,

Euthanasia in the Netherlands, Ten Years On

Oy, what a crappy article. From the stock syringe image to the "two sides to every story" to the Nazi references, Marco Hochqemuth hits all the typical buttons on this brief piece about how the Netherlands led with same-sex marriage and other nations followed but only two have adopted assisted suicide since the Netherlands did 10 years ago. Sans the religion quotes, it's one of the more cliched articles I've seen in a while.

Read more on the 10th anniversary here.

Labels: , ,

Assisted Suicide Bill Defeated in South Australia

South Australia's Parliament defeated a bill that would have amended an existing law to allow assisted suicide. While it's estimated that 80% of voters favor the amendment, parliament rejected it. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

But Family First MLC Dennis Hood said the bill was "dangerous" and he was relieved it was defeated.

"Parliament has spoken loud and clear. Voluntary euthanasia for SA has been soundly defeated and should be moved off the agenda," he said.

"I am grateful that members listened to my concerns and made the decision on conscience to oppose the bill."

Mr Hood said the bill would have allowed euthanasia for patients that did not have a terminal illness, left psychological referral of patients as an option only and offered a "toothless" Voluntary Euthanasia Board to oversee the practice.

In September this year, Ms Key announced she would introduce the bill into parliament's lower house while Greens upper house MP Mark Parnell will put the identical bill to the Legislative Council.

Mr Parnell had similar legislation defeated in the upper house last year.

At the time, Ms Key said it was time for the SA parliament to catch up with public opinion.

"Over 80 per cent of Australians support the right of the terminally ill and others living in intolerable pain and suffering to seek the assistance of a doctor to end their own lives at a time and in the circumstances of their choosing," she said.

Mr Parnell said the bill required a patient to be examined by two doctors, including at least one specialist and oversight by a Voluntary euthanasia Board.

But influential Port Pirie Catholic bishop Gregory O'Kelly was among vocal opponents of the plan, blaming the recent rise of minor political parties for "pushing death.

"It is a sadness that the first moves around our nation under our new political arrangement seem to be a promotion of death and abuse of marriage," he said in September.

Labels: , , , ,

SUPPORT After All These Years

From GeriPal, an article on the legacy of the SUPPORT study:

November 2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of the SUPPORT Project, the largest study of end of life care ever conducted. This study that shook the medical world. SUPPORT was an ambitious effort sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve the quality of care towards the end of life in patients with serious illness. The finding that this $29 million effort had absolutely no impact on improving the quality of end of life care was stunning.

The failure of the intervention to improve end of life care and the strikingly poor quality of end of life care documented by SUPPORT led to calls for action in the lay media and by advocates of better end of life care. SUPPORT remains the most influential study of end of life care ever published, and with over 1300 citations in the peer-reviewed literature, by far the most cited.

The SUPPORT intervention study randomized over 4000 patients hospital at 5 US hospitals to usual care or the SUPPORT intervention. Patients had one of 9 index conditions, such as sepsis with organ system failure, or metastatic lung cancer, and clinical characteristics suggesting a 50% or greater 6 month mortality. Physicians of patients in the intervention received received estimates of the probability of survival over six months, estimates of the outcomes of CPR, and estimates of the probability of severe functional disability at 2 months. The intervention also provided documentation of patient and family care preferences and provided access to a nurse interventionist to facilitate communication, including helping to carry out needed communication and facilitating meetings.

The effect of this intervention? NADA. Nothing. There was no impact on each of these key outcome measures:
  • Earlier writing of DNR orders
  • Physicians knowledge of their patients' preferences for CPR
  • Number of days spent in an ICU before death
  • Patient reports of moderate or severe pain
  • Use of hospital resources

The SUPPORT project showed that the provision of prognostic information, and enhancing communication were insufficient in the 1995 care environment to improve outcomes at the end of life. The investigators suggested that "more forceful measures" may be needed. Several of the SUPPORT leaders noted that the efforts to improve end of life care were inhibited by a medical structure that made it very difficult to provide high quality end of life care and argued that improvements were unlikely without a major societal commitment to improve end of life care.

Labels: , ,