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America does only a mediocre job of caring for its most seriously ill and dying patients, according to the nation's first state-by-state 'report card' on end-of-life care released by Last Acts, a coalition working for better care and caring near the end of life.
The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on eight key elements of end-of-life care, including the quality of their advance directive laws, the percentage of deaths taking place at home, use of hospice care, hospitals' use of pain management and palliative care programs, the percentage of patients dying in an intensive care unit (ICU), and the percentage of nursing home residents in persistent pain. Most states earned C's, D's and even E's on the majority of the criteria.
'Dying patients and their families today suffer more than they should,' said Judith R. Peres, deputy director of Last Acts and the leader of the report's research team. 'We still have a long way to go to improve health care and policy for this segment of the American population.'
Corroborating the report's bleak picture about end of life care, Last Acts simultaneously released the results of a national survey showing that a significant number of Americans, including those who have recently lost a loved one, are dissatisfied with the way the country's health care system provides care to the dying. The survey found that 93 percent of Americans believe improving end-of-life care is important
The report, titled Means to a Better End: A Report on Dying in America Today, also highlights existing models that demonstrate how good care can be provided at the end of life.
For information on the report, including a downloadable copy in PDF format, click here.