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Set a low bar for starting palliative care

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i3598 (Published 30 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3598
  1. Scott A Murray, St Columba’s Hospice chair of primary palliative care
  1. Primary Palliative Care Research Group, Centre for Population Health Sciences, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG
  1. Scott.Murray{at}ed.ac.uk

Dying patients and their families most need support early on

About two years ago, death tapped me on the shoulder. I’d been coughing on and off for a year but didn’t want to think about a danse macabre.1 Eventually I went to my GP. The x ray report could not be ignored. Neither could the computed tomography scan, which confirmed lung cancer.

Tough luck, I thought, because I’ve never smoked. And, how ironic: I teach palliative care to medical students and routinely ask them what they’d wish to die from. The smart choice is cancer, because end of life services are much better developed for that. I’d also led the Making a Difference campaign in TheBMJ to extend palliative care to all conditions.2 But …

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