Sunday, July 1, 2012

When Palliative Intent Is Called Into Question

Palliative care and hospice are enormously valuable but widely misunderstood medical practices for patients at end of life.  Central to the misunderstanding is the role of pain medication in the time of death. Palliative physicians can see their care intentions called into question, as a recent study has shown.

In a survey of 663 hospice or palliative physicians, more than half had been accused by patient families or even colleagues of murder, euthanasia or killing within the past five years.

Twenty five of them were formally investigated by their hospital, the state medical board or attorney general. 

None were found guilty.

See the compelling story of one such physician,  the study, and why communication and meticulous note-taking are essential throughout the palliative care process, here.

And  here, see why the Community Ethics Committee found terminal sedation, the treatment most likely to get a palliative physician's intent called into question, to be an ethically justifiable practice. Indeed, the CEC found it to be an important option in the best interests of the patient.

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