KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Efforts Take Shape To Simplify End-Of-Life Wishes, Improve Care

Media outlets report on developments related to end-of-life care.

The Wall Street Journal: The Informed Patient: New Efforts To Simplify End-Of-Life Care Wishes
The programs are known as Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or Polst. They are meant to complement advance directives, sometimes known as living wills, in which people state in broad terms how much medical intervention they will want when their condition no longer allows them to communicate. A Polst, which is signed by both the patient and the doctor, spells out such choices as whether a patient wants to be on a mechanical breathing machine or feeding tube and receive antibiotics (Landro, 3/15).

WBUR's CommonHealth Blog: Massachusetts Unveils Plan For Better Dying
[The] "Massachusetts Expert Panel On End-Of-Life Care" ... laid out its plan today for how the state can begin to improve the end. Everybody the panel consulted, [Chairman Dr. Lachlan] Forrow said, "agrees on what the health care system needs to do, and I mean everyone," from those who think dying people get too much care to those who worry that dying people get too little. They agree on three points, he said: ... every patient with a serious illness that may be fatal should be fully informed of the range of ways they might be taken care of. ... [patient] preferences should be known, documented, and always available when decisions are going to be made. ... Those preferences should always be respected when a person receives care (Goldberg, 3/14).

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