Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More on palliative care

The Diane Rhem show had a one hour discussion of palliative care today....I heard a lot of it but not all. Here is the audio.

I find myself wondering if the preposterous 'death panel' screech of last August would have been upended had the NEJM study showing that palliative care extended life and improved quality of life for patients with stage IV metastatic lung cancer been published a year ago. After all, the proposal that was somehow morphed into 'death panels' was simply increased payment for consultations for palliative care and advanced care planning. Anyone who engaged in the 'death panel' mantra really shouldn't be listened to on matters of health policy as they either don't know what they are talking about, or they were purposefully misleading people for political gain.

One August to the next....quite a turnaround as far as palliative care goes.


  1. Unfortunately, the words "an NEJM study showed that palliative care extends life and improves quality of life for patients with stage IV metastatic lung cancer and so we should really take a closer look at increased payments for consultations" would not only fly over the heads of most voters, but also over the heads of the stump wielding politicians who often struggle with much more basic healthcare ideas...

    ...So how does a health policy expert advise a politician on the necessary message. What's the handful of words slogan here?

  2. Focusing on treating pain and other symptoms and seeking to maximize basic function does more to extend the life of persons with advanced lung cancer than does the latest chemotherapy for patients with stage IV lung cancer. The main thing politicians need to understand is that the 'death panel' debate was a lie. The reality is that it is a bad situation to be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Palliative care helps make the most out of a bad situation, including helping people live a bit longer.