We’re up to point 9 on the list – and nearing the end – on Bending the Cost Curve in Cancer Care from the May 26 NEJM. The suggestion from Drs. Smith and Hillner is that doctors better integrate palliative care into usual oncology care. The authors start this important section well: We can reduce […]
This is the sixth post on Bending the Cost Curve in Cancer Care, based on the 10 suggestions put forth by Drs. Smith and Hillner in the May 26 NEJM. We’re up to number 5 on the list for changing oncologists’ behavior: by limiting further chemotherapy to clinical trial drugs in patients who are not […]
When I practiced oncology, I relished time talking with patients and their loved ones about tough decisions – when an indolent condition accelerated and it seemed time to bite the bullet and start treatment, or when a cancer stopped responding to treatment and it seemed right to shift gears and, perhaps, emphasize palliation instead of more chemo, and at every value-loaded decision checkpoint in between.
These conversations weren’t easy; speaking of levels of care, palliation and end-of-life wishes are discussions that many doctors, even oncologists, still avoid.
It was sometime in April, 1988. I was putting a line in an old man with end-stage kidney disease, cancer (maybe), heart failure, bacteria in his blood and no consciousness. Prince was on the radio, loud, by his bedside. If you could call it that – the uncomfortable, curtained compartment didn’t seem like a good place for resting.