Palliative care essential for patients at end of life

"Countries around the world expend substantial resources to relieve the suffering caused by the burden of disease," writes Rosemary Gibson, MSc, in an editorial accompanying three articles examining health care at the end of life posted online that will be published in the Feb. 14, 2011, print issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.1

"Conversations that allow the patient to describe what is important as he or she lives life with serious illness or near life's end should be paramount in guiding the course of treatment," Gibson writes. "High-quality palliative care — provided in hospitals, nursing homes, at home or in hospice — can help patients understand their illness and make informed decisions about their care, together with their families. It must be integrated into the care of patients in all settings."

"Only with the explicit goal of relieving the burden of illness, and relieving the burden of treatment, will health care systems fulfill their intended purpose of caring for the patient."

Gibson led the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's strategy to improve end-of-life care for more than a decade and is the author of two books.

Reference

1. Arch Intern Med. Published online Oct. 11, 2010. Doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.360.