Knowledge, care and compassion really do bring peace. Why should this be a surprise? And why should a few strident opponents prevent those approaching life’s end from having this benefit?
A study appearing in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association points out the benefits of end-of-life counseling, although the widespread misinformation loose in the land may have doomed what should be a significant piece of health reform.
As a political uproar rages over end-of-life counseling, a new study finds offering such care to dying cancer patients improves their mood and quality of life.
The study of 322 patients in rural New Hampshire and Vermont also suggests the counseling didn’t discourage people from going to the hospital.
The Senate bill provision axed by Finance Committee chair Charles Grassley would have allowed coverage for conversations with physicians about things like hospice care, advance directives and treatment options. But to opponents of reform, it was a handy attack mechanism. They enlisted a few standard bearers like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and media darling Rush Limbaugh to twist the issue into menacing “death panels,” and in no time at all Sen. Grassley had his excuse to excise.
Losers in this are all of us. Eventually, 100% of us will die. Aggressive treatment and expensive, futile procedures are common today to that experience; compassion and peace are harder to come by.
In the new study, trained nurses did the counseling with patients and family caregivers using a model based on national guidelines. All the patients in the study had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Half were assigned to receive usual care. The other half received usual care plus counseling about managing symptoms, communicating with health care providers and finding hospice care.
Patients who got the counseling scored higher on quality of life and mood measures than patients who did not.
Could someone please get this information to Sarah Palin?