I recommend We Can’t Save You from Slate. The post addresses a topic I haven’t thought much about but that makes a lot of sense: the intersection of emergency medicine and palliative care. Here’s the problem:
[Some patients] get treated, aggressively and repeatedly, for dangerous flare-ups in conditions like heart failure or emphysema without anyone having the time or the skills to explain that the chronic disease they have been living with is now the chronic disease that they are slowly dying from…
Emergency rooms are intense, fast-moving environments where the culture is often more about taking charge and saving people than slowing down and taking the long-term view. So it’s encouraging to read that at least some ER docs are trying to incorporate palliative approaches when appropriate. Such care can include controlling pain, managing symptoms (like shortness of breath) and coordinating supportive resources for the patient and family.
The results are going to be better for the patient and less costly for the system, too. No doubt some ideologues will see the introduction of palliative care into the ER as the implementation of “death panels.” They’re welcome to such views, however delusional.August 6, 2010