Here we are at the start of a new financial year, so let’s take a look at a story by ABC News reporter James Bullen: High number of terminal patients unnecessarily treated, study finds (Wed 29 Jun 2016). Unnecessary treatment is costly socially and financially.
In an analysis of 38 studies of end-of-life care, published in the International Journal for Quality in Healthcare, “a significant number of patients received treatments that were of no benefit to them. These included chemotherapy, radiotherapy and CPR, when a person had a not-for-resuscitation order.”
As a result of these revelations, doctors have called for the public to discuss end of life care with their loved ones so as to minimise “unnecessary treatment in the last six months of their lives.”
Lead author Dr Magnolia Cardona-Morrell, a senior research fellow at the University of New South Wales, found some non-beneficial treatments prevented patients from having a comfortable death.
The analysis found one in three elderly patients with an advanced or irreversible condition were treated with chemotherapy in their last six weeks of life, while one in four of those with not-for-resuscitation orders received CPR.
It found families pressured doctors to do everything possible for a patient, and the tension for doctors between saving lives and letting a patient die with dignity, were contributing factors.
“A lack of dialogue between doctors and families prior to a person progressing to an advanced stage of illness contributed to negative outcomes, “ says Dr Magnolia Cardona-Morrell, who went on to say: “people should talk about their end of life care options before they became terminally ill.”
“I would propose that the public start the conversation with their relatives and their GP as soon as possible.”