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Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life

Posted on 09/18/2014
A national, nonpartisan, committee appointed by the Institute of Medicine is calling for a major overhaul of how we treat end-of-life care in America. The committee concluded in a report released on Wednesday that, “The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be changed at almost every level.” The panel concluded that the current system is not designed to meet the wants and needs of patients at the end of life. The report recommended that insurers reimburse health care providers for conversations with patients on advance care planning. Recently, the American Medical Association urged Medicare to reimburse providers for having these conversations.

For patients and their loved ones, no care decisions are more profound than those made near the end of life. For the millions of Americans who work in or with the health care sector—including clinicians, clergy, caregivers, and support staff—providing high-quality care for people who are nearing the end of life is a matter of professional commitment and responsibility. Health sys­tem managers, payers, and policy makers, likewise, have a responsibility to ensure that end-of-life care is compassionate, affordable, sustainable, and of the best quality possible.

A substantial body of evidence shows that broad improvements to end-of-life care are within reach. In Dying in America, a consensus report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a committee of experts finds that improving the quality and availability of medical and social services for patients and their families could not only enhance quality of life through the end of life, but may also contribute to a more sustainable care system.

Get access to the full report, key findings and recommendations, core components, and infographic here.