Bioethics News

United States commits to improve both physicians training and quality in palliative care

A system to prepare physicians to address this type of medical need that showed a significant improvement in the quality of life expected in patients with serious illnesses.

In 1998 in the United States, only 15% of hospitals with 50 beds or more had an official palliative care programme. By 2013, this percentage had risen to 67%, and today, 90% of hospitals with more than 300 beds now have this type of care. However, it appears that widespread training of physicians to address this type of medical need has not yet been realised.

Palliative care physicians training

For this reason, the United States wish to implement a system to prepare physicians, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, to improve both training and quality in palliative care. A budget of 49.1 US million dollars has been allocated to this end, which does not seem high for the improvement in the quality of life expected in patients with serious illnesses (See HERE).

Furthermore, a recent systematic review (See HERE) that evaluated the effects of palliative care on patients and caregivers using data from 12,731 patients (mean age 67 years) and 2,479 caregivers showed a significant improvement in patient quality of life in the 1 to 3 months after care began. However, no association was found between palliative care and survival.

The authors concluded that this meta-analysis shows a significant association between patient quality of life, although results were more inconsistent with respect to the caregivers, and no significant association was found between palliative care and patient survival.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.