Comfort care found to add precious months at the end of life An interview with palliative care expert Cynda Hylton Rushton
Palliative care is back in the news, and fortunately, receiving much more thoughtful coverage on evidence of its benefits to patients, its ability to enhance standard, disease-directed care, and even its often elusive definition.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that metastatic lung cancer patients who received traditional therapy and palliative care were more likely to live longer, report a better quality of life and avoid aggressive end-of-life care—as compared to patients who only received cancer therapy. Meanwhile, those who received aggressive treatment during their last days experienced the lowest quality of life and were the least at peace with their situation, according to the Aug. 19 study.
Now, the confusing discussion of whether doctors ought to discuss palliative care with seriously ill patients has resurfaced, and it challenges what many considered to be a poor decision: removing the advanced care-planning consultation (including palliative and hospice care) benefits from the federal health-care bill. The provision would have reimbursed doctors for time spent speaking with patients about their options and preferences for end-of-life care.