Obama Targets End-of-Life Care: Critics Say Lives are at Stake

The charge:

According to Dartmouth, Medicare pays about $50,000 during a patient’s last six months of care by U.C.L.A., where patients may be seen by dozens of different specialists and spend weeks in the hospital before they die.

By contrast, the figure is about $25,000 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors closely coordinate care, are slow to bring in specialists and aim to avoid expensive treatments that offer little or no benefit to a patient.

“One of them costs twice as much as the other, and I can tell you that we have no idea what we’re getting in exchange for the extra $25,000 a year at U.C.L.A. Medical,” Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director and a disciple of the Dartmouth data.

The defense:

U.C.L.A. and five other big California medical centers recently published their own research results with a striking conclusion: for heart failure patients, the hospitals that spend the most seem to save the most lives.

Full article on end-of-life care in The New York Times.

Comments (4)

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  1. Neil H. says:

    I hear the jackboots coming.

  2. Larry C. says:

    Sieg Heil!

  3. artk says:

    I keep on hearing these Nazi comments by a segment of the public that opposes the health care reform bill. I would make the following comments. First, there are still living holocaust survivors. I dare you to tell them how you think the health care reform effort is the same as the Nazi death camps. Why this line of argument is even acceptable is beyond belief.

    Second, the issue of heroic efforts for very ill and often terminally ill patients is a serious issue. All reasonable people understand this. Studying outcomes so that doctors can make an informed decision is how modern medicine distinguishes itself from medieval bloodletting. The reality is that this society doesn’t have unlimited resources for medical care. Wasting money on useless end of life care takes those resources away from those who will benefit from medical care. We need to know more about when heroic measures actually extend life and when they just induce more suffering without any benefit. You should welcome more studies in this area.

  4. Ken says:

    Hey, artk. What’s wrong with patients and their families making decisions about their own health care, using dollars they own and control? I can’t believe you would want some bureaucrat in some distant city making a decision on when to pull the plug on you.