Monday, January 15, 2007

International Report on Access to Palliative Care, Byock in the News, Canadian Euthanasia/Suicide debate

1) I stumbled across a Louisiana news clipping which referenced a report published from Lancaster University (UK) and the International Observatory on End of Life Care. I have not heard of this group before, but I know that many of our readers are interested in international efforts in palliative care. The particular report stated that:

33 percent have yet to take the first steps to build service capacity. In countries where hospice-palliative care services exist, provision is mostly localized, with only 15 percent of countries having achieved a measure of integration with mainstream healthcare providers.

I know some of my peers at San Diego Hospice have done quite a bit in pushing this field forward globally. They have some great stories about helping doctors in foreign hospitals administer their first dose of morphine to a patient and having the staff, patients or doctors declare a miracle that the patients pain was relieved. I am not doing justice to their story, but if you get a chance to hear anyone speak on International Palliative Care efforts, you really do become humbled at what we do have here in the United States despite our occasional grumbling that 'the rest of medicine doesn't understand palliative care yet.'

In addition to focusing on international efforts, the group of 18 staff and 8 students also are focusing on studying the History of Hospice. Overall a great website resource for international hospicee studies. They have a good selection of free journal articles they have published as well. I have added the web site into the right hand column of helpful sites for our readers.

2) Ira Byock, one of our palliative care celebrities (which I describe as likely keynote speakers who have probably published a book) had a feature article in the Boston Globe. The part I was especially intrigued about was the following:
Byock's most ambitious project is just beginning, though. In October, he announced plans to make end-of-life care a central issue when presidential candidates canvass the Granite State this year. The initiative will begin with community forums and later involve policy papers, as well as questionnaires for candidates.
Not many palliative care articles in papers talk about politics and I think this is a great opportunity that plays well to Dr. Byock's respect from his peers at Dartmouth and his status in the field. I will be excited to hear any results he gets from this initiative. Interestingly the article was written by Stephen Kiernan who is also the author of Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life From the Medical System (Drew blogged about him here.)

3) Also a quick note about a press release from November about the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Organization changing a draft statement about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (both illegal in the US (except PAS in Oregon) and Canada). Apparently the language changed from opposing Euthanasia/PAS to neutrality and non-abandonment of patients. Read more about the contentious issue on a pro-life site here. No time to go into analyzing this issue at this hour. But FYI.

PS I have gone through our last 50 posts and added labels. More to come when I am procrastinating. I also labeled all posts either 'rosielle' or 'sinclair' so if you like the way either one of us writes you can select our best of's or at least see how much Drew outshines/outblogs me 4:1.

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