KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Relatives More Likely To Rank End-Of-Life Care Excellent When Patient Was In Hospice, At Home

A new study in JAMA surveys family members of terminally ill cancer patients, and found that they were more likely to rate the care as excellent when the patient was not in an intensive care unit. Another study in the same journal examines how treatment of terminal patients in the United States compares to other countries.

CBS News: Families Give Insights Into End-Of-Life Choices
Families of terminally ill cancer patients say end-of-life care is better when the patient is at home or in hospice care, not in the hospital intensive care unit. The study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers surveyed the families of 1,146 older Medicare patients who had died of either advanced-stage lung cancer or colorectal cancer in the previous year. (Brophy Marcus, 1/19)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: The U.S. Is Not As Bad At End-Of-Life Cancer Care As Most People Think
One of the most pervasive ideas about death in America is that we don't do it well, dying in hospital beds after enduring unnecessary medical procedures instead of at home. It's our uncomfortable relationship with death, the thinking goes, that's pushing the relentless rise of our health-care spending to the highest in the world. A new study of cancer patients over age 65 complicates that notion, finding that while pieces of the story are right, much of it is not. Among the seven countries studied, American cancer patients were the least likely to die in a hospital bed. (Johnson, 1/19)

In other news, Vice President Joe Biden wants to speed up the combination therapy approval process —

Reuters: Biden Pledges Faster U.S. Approval For Cancer Drug Cocktails
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the United States would speed up the approval of promising new drug combinations in his government's newly announced drive to cure cancer "once and for all." Biden, who lost his 46-year-old son Beau to brain cancer last year, set out his plans at a World Economic Forum meeting of international cancer experts in Davos, a week after being appointed to lead the initiative by President Barack Obama. (Hirschler, 1/19)

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