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.