BATON ROUGE, La., Feb. 12, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new study about end-of-life care may be only about half right, asserts Michael Fleming, MD, FAAFP and chief medical officer for Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq:AMED), a national leader in healthcare at home and hospice. http://medicaring.org/2015/02/02/symptom-prevalence/
The research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that patients over age 50 suffered more in the last year of life than previous patients – more pain, more depression and more confusion.
Those problems arose despite national efforts to improve end-of-life care, the study concludes. Attention to end-of-life issues have intensified in recent months, starting with an Institute of Medicine report last year calling the end-of-life infrastructure "broken" and persisting this week with a PBS special based on the widely popular new Atul Gawande book, "On Being Mortal."
Dr. Fleming emphatically agrees end-of-life care should be much better managed, and should avoid unnecessarily prolonging the trauma of dying, but points out that the study looked mainly at patients treated in hospitals, disregarding hospices.
And even though Dr. Fleming agrees end-of-life care drastically needs upgrading on the whole, he believes hospice care is now demonstrably improved and its services much more widely available than ever before.
First, he proposes, everyone should be better educated about the options available in hospice care. Second, physicians should more freely and frequently discuss end-of-life decisions with families. Third, patients themselves should be directly asked about their goals and needs, and those wishes abided by in full. Fourth, patients should be admitted to hospice early enough to take full advantage of its scope of personalized care to meet those goals and needs.
"We can do right by patients at the end of life," Dr. Fleming says, "but only if we resolve to learn how."
Amedisys, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMED) is a leading health care at home company delivering personalized home health and hospice care to more than 360,000 patients each year. More than 2,200 hospitals and 61,900 physicians nationwide have chosen Amedisys as a partner in post-acute care. Amedisys is focused on delivering the care that is best for our patients, whether that is home-based recovery and rehabilitation after an operation or injury, care focused on empowering them to manage a chronic disease, palliative care for those with a terminal illness, or hospice care at the end of life. Amedisys also has the industry's first-ever nationwide Care Transitions program, designed to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions through patient and caregiver health coaching and care coordination, which starts in the hospital and continues throughout completion of the patient's home health plan of care. For more information about the Company, please visit: http://www.amedisys.com.
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