[Reblog] How the discussion on dying has changed over 40 years: A conversation with Nancy Berlinger | Association of Health Care Journalists
From the 18 February 2015 post
If you want a refresher on how far society has come on dealing with end-of-life care issues — and what issues are still to be resolved — then this retrospective article in the Feb 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from experts at The Hastings Center is a great place to begin. It reviews the history of the end-of-life care movement in the U.S., takes a look at the integration of palliative care into health care delivery, discusses the still controversial “death with dignity” laws and ethical issues like removal of feeding and hydration tubes.
I recently spoke with co-author Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., a research scholar at Hastings, about how the conversation on death and dying has changed over four decades.
Q: Why did you and your colleagues develop this retrospective for publication in a medical journal?
NB: It stemmed from a recent revision of The Hastings Center Guidelines [for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life].
We see lots of ads from hospitals advertising their standards of excellence and their programs. None of them ever advertise their end of life care.
it’s clear that financial incentives are very misaligned with what people need, what they want, what would be medically appropriate. This is a very complex issue – it can’t be undone by a patient, or by an individual doctor or nurse. This has to be the focus of very high-level attention.
Q: What should journalists be focusing on?
NB: Even if they don’t cover the deep medical end of things, they can still ask questions in the context of health and wellness, such as:
- How much power does a sick person have?
- How much power does a really stressed out family have?
- How much power does a doctor, seeing X number of patients, really have?
- And, what still do we want to try to help these people to do? To understand we’re all connected in these efforts.
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