Research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found palliative care consults for nursing home patients led to less burdensome care, fewer hospital readmissions and better pain management without raising costs. The study included 46 nursing homes in North Carolina and Rhode Island, and researchers said palliative care consultations were more effective if they took place early, from 61 to 180 days before death.
Almost 20 years after Oregon enacted the Death With Dignity Act, data show little evidence of abuse, and most patients opting for physician-assisted death had cancer and were in hospice, researchers reported at the 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium. AAHPM CMO Dr. Joseph Rotella said the research was important in determining if physician-assisted suicide has unintended consequences and how to mitigate them.
Physicians at the Heart Failure Society of America's 20th Annual Scientific Sessions discussed how palliative care fits into treatment regimens for heart failure. Dr. Mary Norine Walsh at St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis said palliative care "is becoming an increasingly important area of investigation for our patients, for our teams and also for our whole field of advanced HF care."
Survey data show 42% of family caregivers spend $5,000 or more annually on care-giving expenses, compared with 48% of people asked last year. Caring.com's "Caregiver Journey for 2016" survey found 78% of employed caregivers said their caregiving duties have had a negative impact on their jobs and 79% said they have caused them to miss work in the past year.
A report estimated the number of US Latinos with Alzheimer's disease would increase from 379,000 in 2012 to 3.5 million by 2060. The report by the University of Southern California and the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer's network makes numerous recommendations, including increasing research funding, raising awareness of dementias in minority neighborhoods, and offering caregiver training and resources in multiple languages.
A study in the journal Pain found terminal cancer patients in the UK may not get timely pain treatment with strong opioids, and US experts say there is a similar problem in the US. Nurse researcher Judith Paice of Northwestern University said undertreatment of cancer pain is a problem in the US and may become more serious due to unintended consequences of efforts to reduce opioid abuse.
Limited access to fresh foods is not a marker for higher heart failure readmissions, according to a study presented at the Heart Failure Society of America's Scientific Sessions. Researchers found patients with adequate access to fresh foods who were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days had higher mortality rates than those with low access to fresh foods.
A survey of physicians at 340 small practices found 50% have or would consider purchasing, buying into, merging or selling their practices and 73% expect to do so within four years, while 46% say the cost of doing business is pushing them to make a change. The survey for TD Bank found 43% of physicians said they expect to increase revenues during the next two years.
A Ketchum study found that 58% of smartphone users in the US have shared their medical information with a caregiver through the internet and 25% have sent a text or email with a photo of a medical issue to a physician. Forty-seven percent of respondents have apps to track health, medicine, fitness or exercise, and 83% who have exercise or fitness apps use them one or more times per week.
Dying patients in California who want to end their lives through physician-assisted suicide are having trouble finding doctors to participate in the process. Dr. Faith Protsman at Saint Louise Regional Hospital said she supports the law but is unlikely to participate and would instead encourage palliative and hospice care.
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