Sunday, November 25, 2012

End-of-Life care: NYTimes offers major editorial

The New York Times has an editorial today, Sunday, November 25, 2012, “Care at the End of Life”, link here.

There was a proposal to encourage Medicare to pay for discussions of a patient’s wishes for life extension during terminal illness, that were muted by GOP claims that they amounted to death panels and euthanasia.

Nevertheless, the Hospice program under Medicare encourages such preparations anyway.  Generally, people are eligible for hospice care if a physician certifies that a life expectancy is less than six months, and family members with power or attorney can start it.

The editorial discusses Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or POLST, authorized in fifteen states, as well as practices in many health care systems, such as Gundersen in Wisconsin.

There is a belief in some people that sustaining biological life under all circumstances is a personal responsibility that everyone (including the childless) must accept.

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