Study: Doctors need better education about end-of-life care

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(Host) Vermont health care providers need better education about end-of life care, pain management and palliative care. That’s one of the findings of a legislative study committee that’s just released a series of recommendations.

The committee found that patients do not get timely information about the options available to them and their families in end-of life situations.

Senator Ginny Lyons is a co-chair of the study committee.

(Lyons) What we’ve learned in the process of the report is how important communication is and how important it is to identify support service for patients, both children and adults, how important it is to have a system of care in the community, not just care in a hospital or hospice setting, but to allow for folks to if they wish, end their lives at home.

(Host) The panel’s recommendations range from requiring more training for doctors to removing insurance obstacles to patient-and-family-centered end-of-life care. They also call for public education.

In 2005 the state established an Advance Directive Registry that keeps official records  on individual choices regarding life support and end-of-life treatment.

Dr. Allan Ramsay is the Medical Director of Fletcher Allen’s Palliative Care Services. He says patients have to take responsibility too, and be willing to think about these things.

(Ramsay) Things that we all need to put in place to be sure that we are heard when we have a crisis or a critical illness. We need more people with advance directives, using the registry and talking to their physician about life-sustaining treatment, That is community education and that has to be addressed too.

(Host) The legislature is expected to consider a number of the recommendations this session.

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