Care provided to patients with serious illness is currently less than optimal.
Measures that can improve end-of-life care provided dying patients and their families are:
- Integrate palliative care with conventional medical care for all patients with major illnesses including cancer, advanced heart failure, advanced lung diseases, advanced renal disease, advanced liver disease and advanced HIV.
- Increase access to hospice care for all patients with a life expectancy of six months or less.
- Foster an inter-disciplinary approach to the care of all patients with advanced illness. Interdisciplinary team members can include expert clinicians from medicine, nursing, social work, chaplaincy, nutrition, and pharmacy.
- Promote patient centered evaluation and treatment of illness, with a focus on the central role of the family unit in decision-making.
- Create opportunities for basic and advanced training in hospice and palliative care for all health care professionals.
Dr. Charles von Gunten on why a team approach is advantageous: