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Death and dying in the US: the barriers to the benefits of palliative and hospice care

Authors Finestone AJ, Inderwies G

Published 12 September 2008 Volume 2008:3(3) Pages 595—599


Albert J Finestone, Gail Inderwies

School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadephia, PA, USA

In August 2006, after a trip to the New Jersey Shore, Peggy was having great difficulty catching her breath. In consultation with her children, Peggy decided that she was ready for hospice care. But, she did not want to relinquish her independence just because shortness of breath and a weakening heart overtook her daily stride. However, a single episode at home had thrown Peggy into crisis. Since Peggy lived alone, hospice care at home presented a host of challenges including safety and how to manage her unstable cardiopulmonary condition. Peggy was an ideal candidate for the hospice’s TeleCare (see box) monitoring program which provided a passive monitoring system, a medication dispenser, and vital signs monitoring for blood pressure, weight, and blood oxygen levels. In addition, the hospice authorized routine draws of BNP (beta naturetic peptide) and BMP (basic metabolic profi le) with GFR (glomerular filtration rate) to manage her symptoms aggressively. Medications were adjusted accordingly to maximize quality of life and minimize symptoms. Though some would consider this treatment aggressive, it was the aggressive treatment of Peggy’s symptoms that allowed for an extended quality of life. There was sufficient evidence to support this action based on the concept of risk and reward, especially as there was a minimum of invasive therapies required. In Peggy’s case she went from being homebound and short of breath to living her life up to her final days.

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