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US health system is not meeting patients’ needs at end of life, says expert committee

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5739 (Published 18 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5739
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

The US health system needs to undergo major changes if it is to meet the needs of patients nearing the end of life, a new report from the US Institute of Medicine has said.

The report1 was written by a 21 member expert committee convened by the institute. It found that, although the fields of palliative and hospice care had become established in the United States, access to good end of life care remained limited by the small number of palliative care specialists, a lack of primary and specialty care providers who were proficient in basic palliative care, and a health system whose incentives promoted medical interventions ahead of compassionate end of life care.

“Often clinicians …

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