Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Palliative Care Grand Rounds - April MMX

A grand welcome to the April edition of Palliative Care Grand Rounds (PCGR), a monthly (first Wednesday) summary, or mash-up, of thought-provoking, timely, relevant, humane, and exceptionally well-written postings from the blogosphere. For a look back at year-to-date PCGRs, see here, here, and here. Now, onward.

With the landmark health reform bill commanding news throughout the past month, I’ll focus on blog posts relating to palliative care that any of us might have overlooked. First, a summary of how health reform may impact hospice via Larry Beresford’s post .

A higher than usual volume of current blog postings concern futile care. To wit, the Happy Hospitalist writes in his Unfiltered Hospital Medicine Blog about a recent case that highlights for him, just as for many who posted comments, the ethical issues surrounding futile care. So is this particular case an extreme example? Or is it more common than you or I realize? Decide for yourself.

Meanwhile, a neurologist with the blogger moniker of Dr. Grumpy writes about another example of futile care that’s sure to give pause to each reader.

Then there’s Joanne Kenen, a veteran journalist who logged more than a decade covering health policy on Capitol Hill. As Senior Writer in the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, Ms. Kenen’s blog focuses on the intersection between health policy and health politics. Read here for her reaction to an essay “Shock Me, Tube Me, Line Me” penned by an
Emergency Medicine specialist in the esteemed journal Health Affairs. Its author, Boris Veysman, an ER doc at a New Jersey academic medical center, describes caring for a terminally ill woman suffering from metastatic cancer. Her wish—to have a low-tech death, free of tubes and machines—both countered and confirmed his to have “everything” done to prolong life when his time comes. A provocative read.

Larry Beresford, host of last month’s PCGR, posted recently about the discussion circulating more widely these days on declining enrollment at hospices. A decline in hospice referrals, Larry posits, may correlate to what the economists refer to as a necessary market correction.

The critical nexus of death and religion often fascinates Ann Neumann. In her blog Otherspoon, she weighs in with a thoughtful piece on the role that three institutions (church, state, and health care industry) play in the national structure of late-life care.
Concurrently, her post grapples with the racial disparities prevalent in hospice enrollment.

I’m indebted to Christian Sinclair for facilitating my role as Grand Rounds host in his post . It nicely crystallizes several blog posts that have deservedly garnered much attention and discussion.

Dr. Michael Kirsch asks in his blog “Are Feeding Tubes Futile Care or Morally Obligatory?” See where you stand.

A family medicine physician who writes a blog, Musings of a Dinosaur, posted last month that “Palliative Care is an Unnecessary Specialty”. Well, as you’d expect, this view generated considerable discussion throughout the blogosphere. Some came from Buckeye Surgeon, who comments occasionally about palliative care, posting these comments.

On Geripal, Alex Smith writes about how his “What is palliative care?” response has evolved. Today, he starts by saying, "Palliative care is about matching treatment to patient goals." Hard to argue with that.

Are you curious how physicians choose to practice in hospice and palliative medicine? In the first edition of Pallimed’s new feature, Origins, Pam Harris, who recently passed her Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation boards and is HPM-certified, details what drew her to the HPM specialty.

Suzana Makowski joined Pallimed last month as a blogger, posting about emergency room use by patients with cancer approaching end of life. Dr. Makowski adds her suggestions to those of the study’s author on how ER visits could be reduced. One notion: establishing “palliative care medical homes” that provide palliative care seamlessly across healthcare settings.

Risa’s Pieces has been a blog whose posts have been regularly featured in PCGR. In this post,
Risa writes about her new roles in and out of end-of-life care.

Over at the blog Death Club for Cuties, look for a new feature titled Memorial Monday.
Blogger Jerry Soucy visits a site called Find a Grave, searches through its database to find the people who died on the particular date of a given Monday, and then selects an entry that has some relevance to palliative care, or that otherwise resonates with him personally.

Next month’s host is Thaddeus Pope, at his blog http://medicalfutility.blogspot.com/. Lots of March posts on the subject of yes, medical futility. Among these posts you'll find many video links, one of them of a short film nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2010 Academy Awards. I think you'll find it worth eight minutes of your time. And while on the subject of the connection between the arts and death and dying, have a look at Pallimed's Arts and Humanities blog and postings by Drs. Christian, Clarkson, and Wollesen.

Of course, your comments are, as usual, invited.


Ann Neumann said...

Thanks for Grand Rounding me, Tim. This is one of my favorite features on the site; and while it's helpful to access some of the best posts each month in one place, I also think it works to formulate a cohesive discourse surrounding end of life and palliative care issues -- a community. Tickled that Thaddeus Pope will be hosting next month. Best, Ann

Unknown said...

Hey, Tim. Great round-up of great readings about end-of-life care. Thanks for including me among some very thoughtful pieces about futility and the meaning of palliative care, and thanks for the insightful introductions.

Risa Denenberg said...

Thanks Tim, for another great selection of posts! And thanks for keeping up with my travails!

PallMDHouston said...

Thank you for your continued blogging on HPM medicine. Being part of such a small field it is great to have a steady source of news, articles and insights. Since becoming a follower of your blog almost a year ago, I have subscribed to The HPM Practitioner, a wonderful publication that highlights our colleagues and spreads news and updates. Keep it up!

Christian Sinclair said...

Great post selection TIm. Sorry for screwing up your links from Pallimed (Twice!) I fixed them all now.