American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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New series to help physicians address end-of-life care issues

From the October 1998 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 1998 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

ACP-ASIM's End-of-Life Care Consensus Panel is developing a series of 11 articles that will help internists be more responsive to the problems experienced by patients at the end of life.

The series will address topics such as how to transition from curative to palliative care, and how to care for patients with dementia and altered mental status. The first article, "Discussing palliative care with patients," has already been submitted to Annals of Internal Medicine. Future articles will address clinical, ethical and policy issues that physicians face when providing end-of-life care.

"If internists do a better job in this area, the public will have a lot less concern about such issues as physician-assisted suicide," said Bernard Lo, FACP, Chair of the Consensus Panel. "Patients and their families need to feel that their needs will be met by their doctors."

At its July meeting, the College's Board of Regents approved a second article, "A consensus-based approach to practicing palliative care for patients who lack decision-making capacity: a case study of a patient with severe Alzheimer's disease and aspiration pneumonia." All 11 articles may eventually be released in a single publication.

The Consensus Panel, which is funded by the Greenwall Foundation of New York, is part of a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics called "Finding Common Ground." The collaboration is exploring issues related to death and dying. Greenwall is a private foundation that supports work in the arts, humanities, education and medicine. For further information on the project, contact Lois Snyder, project director, at 800-523-1546, ext. 2835.

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