Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Slow Medicine - A Different Approach to End of Life Care

Category: Elder Law

A recent New York Times article "For the Elderly, Being Heard About Life’s End" describes the benefits of of "“slow medicine,” an approach that encourages less aggressive — and less costly — care at the end of life."

There is an institutionalized bias to give any and all medical care. However, when a person is in their late 80's or 90's this aggressive care may hinder their quality of life and control over the quality of that life.

Aggressive medical care is sometime an exercise is substituted decision making - I can, so therefore I will. What "slow medicine" seems to promote is the question of - you can, but should you?

The article advised that "slow medicine" is "Grounded in research at the Dartmouth Medical School, slow medicine encourages physicians to put on the brakes when considering care that may have high risks and limited rewards for the elderly, and it educates patients and families how to push back against emergency room trips and hospitalizations designed for those with treatable illnesses, not the inevitable erosion of advanced age."

And the irony to this. As a class of population, the treatments are the most expensive, although the results may be limited. "The costliest patients — the elderly with chronic illnesses — are the only group with universal health coverage under Medicare, leading to huge federal expenditures that experts agree are unsustainable as boomers age. "

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