Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quality of Death on WBUR

Rachel Gotbaum starts a new series on WBUR radio in Boston this week. It is entitled "Quality of Death: End of Life Care in America" and it will air for five days at 6:40am and 8:40am starting on Monday, April 27. There will also be a full Inside Out documentary with the same name that will air Sunday, May 3 at 8pm and Thursday, May 7 at 9pm.

Rachel has been working on this story for many weeks, and it is sure to be fascinating, thorough, touching, and important. If you can't hear it live, it will also be posted on the WBUR website and available to Utterli subscribers.

Listen to promo's below. First one is: "How much support does the American health care system provide patients as they face the end of life?" The second one: "Are American doctors too focused on extending the life of every patient?"


Allie אלה said...

Hi Mr. Levy,

My name is Allie and my mom was a RN at BIDMC for 15 years. She turned me onto your blog a couple years ago and I've been hooked ever since! I'm writing to you from Israel right now, my new home, and struggling to keep up with all the news back in Boston. I read briefly today about the $11 million in grants that 9 hospitals and universities in MA will be receiving. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this, particularly since BIDMC was not one of the recipients. Any thoughts as to why you were not?

Thanks in advance for the insight!
Keep blogging...your words are traversing oceans!

Anonymous said...

Hi Allie,

Thanks for your note. I don't know to which grants you are refrring.

Allie אלה said...

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's just the first round. More to come.

Gail Gazelle, MD, FACP, FAAHPM said...

Having worked as a hospice medical director for the past decade and currently as a direct patient advocate, the issues raised by Rachel Gotbaum's wonderful series resonate loud and clear. All too often, doctors and patients engage in a dance of "don't ask, don't tell," especially as the person gets sicker and treatment options become more limited. Although I do not have a cure for this problem, one major solution is for doctors to paint a realistic yet compassionate picture as early as possible. For a patient with metastatic cancer, the dialogue should not simply be "here are the things I can to do treat your cancer." Instead, the dialogue should be "there are things I can do to treat your cancer and I truly hope they will be effective. I would not be doing my job, however, if I didn't tell you that I am concerned. Your cancer is advanced, and it is very possible that the treatment I am suggesting will not work. As your doctor, I want to be clear that whatever the outcome, I will always be here for you and your quality of life is my top priority." This type of dialogue plants a seed of reality that can then be built upon if the patient does not respond to the treatment. It allows the patient to make key life decisions based on a truly realistic knowledge of what may lie ahead. It also keeps the patient from being shocked or plunged into depression if the cancer does not respond to treatment. In addition, it makes it clear to the patient that the doctor is committed to treating the patient with the respect and dignity every person is entitled to. Isn't that what every patient deserves?