Helping patients to die well through education

3 May 2013

One of us recently attended highly useful ante-natal classes, where a "birth plan" was promoted, and the aim of anticipating what to expect of the midwife and doctors at every stage was evident, and effective. Nobody in the classes had disillusions about labour going to be easy, but all were motivated to improve the experience when it came to their "turn".

Ante-dying is something we would all wish for, but like birth so is death inevitable. Ante-dying education (for both patients and healthcare professionals) holds the key for helping patients to die well, and a "death plan" should be equally promoted. Leaving things unplanned and to the last minute can lead to unnecessary distress for patients, families, and healthcare professionals, also increasing inevitably the healthcare cost. We feel that including the ante-dying education to medical students' curriculum, and the actual classes in community settings, would serve the best interests of patients, healthcare professionals, and society itself.

Competing interests: None declared

Constantinos Paschalides, General Practitioner

George Samoutis, GP, Associate Professor St George's University London Medical School at the University of Nicosia

Shrub End Surgery, 122 Shrub End Road, Colchester, Essex, CO3 4RY

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