There has been much talk and misinformation about “death panels” and “pulling the plug on grandma.” This is unfortunate because according to all the recent studies people want to talk about End-of-Life Care. Study after study is showing how much better patients and families do after having these discussions with their doctors. The latest legislation is there to reimburse physicians for having these discussions because as stated in the quote below, physicians just don’t have the time. My team did a palliative care consult on a patient yesterday with end-stage thyroid cancer. He is in the ICU and his family is concerned. Our team probably spent 90 minutes going over what happens if his “heart stops” or he “stops breathing”. We discussed what to expect as he declines from his cancer and what that would look like in the ICU versus at home. They asked question after question and you could see some of the weight lifted off of them as we discussed things that the other doctors didn’t have time to discuss. This legislation is an attempt to try and bridge the gap and provide opportunities for families not for the government to make decisions for us. I included a quote from the article with the link below.
“When physicians are asked why they do not regularly engage in advance care planning with their patients, they report that they do not have the time for such conversations. The legislation under consideration in Congress that would allow physicians to be reimbursed for an advance care planning discussion with their patients is simply an attempt to correct the imbalance between what patients want and clinical reality.”