Daughter Charged With Assisted Suicide Is Exonerated

It’s difficult to know what to do for a loved one in the end stages of a terminal illness. Certainly, palliative care is often very effective, and it’s the preferred approach for almost everyone who is dying in pain. But for some, palliative care isn’t enough. Four states – Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington – allow a terminally ill patient to choose to end his life and ask for assistance in doing so. There’s no doubt that assisted suicide is …

What Does the New End-of-Life Study Mean?

When it comes to end-of-life medical decisions, Americans are divided over what they think is right: to pull out all the stops and try everything regardless of the situation, or discontinue treatment and allow someone to die if he or she chooses. A newly released survey by the Pew Research Center asked nearly 2,000 adults by telephone to weigh in on their beliefs, including the hot-button issue of physician-assisted suicide. The results: 66 percent think a patient should be allowed …

A TED Talk on Preparing for the Inevitable

When the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference began in 1984, the Los Angeles Times called it “an obscure gathering of engineers, theorists and artists.” But in the nearly three decades since then, TED has morphed into a series of mind-expanding showcases staged in several countries that attract scores of celebrity visionaries, ranging from physicist Steven Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks to former President Bill Clinton and rock stars Bono and Peter Gabriel. Better yet, the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, which stages the …

Aggressive Care Still the Norm for Dying Older Patients

By Alvin Tran of Kaiser Health News Although federal data show that fewer Medicare beneficiaries are dying in hospitals, new research suggests that doesn’t mean they’re getting less aggressive care in their final days. Researchers at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University and others reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday that even as deaths in acute hospitals declined between 2000 and 2009, the use of intensive care units in the final 30 days …

The Undoing of a Hospice – A Sign of Things to Come?

By Randy Dotinga for Kaiser Health News SAN DIEGO – Death sometimes came slowly at one of the nation’s largest and most respected hospices. That’s not unusual. But here’s a twist: For some patients, it came not at all. While hospices normally treat patients with fewer than six months to live, San Diego Hospice often served people who had much more time left. Not anymore. In the wake of an ongoing federal audit and an internal investigation, the nonprofit hospice’s …

Hospice Rules May Keep Away Patients, Study Finds

By Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News Nearly four out of five hospices have enrollment policies that keep away patients with potentially high-cost medical needs, such as palliative chemotherapy and intravenous feeding tubes, according to a new study. Hospice is one of the fastest growing segments of Medicare, and many health policy experts laud it as a humane and cheaper way to care for people in the last half-year of life. But in surveying hospices, the new study warns …