Increased hospice services may reduce hospitalization | Research compares end-of-life care for surgical, medical patients | NIH online conference examines management of opioids
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October 15, 2014
Hospice and Palliative Medicine SmartBrief
News for physicians caring for the seriously ill

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Increased hospice services may reduce hospitalization
A study found that greater "hospice penetration" at nursing homes may reduce the risk of hospitalization for all residents, regardless of hospice status, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. The report estimated that at 14,000 facilities, 38% of nonhospice patients and 23% of patients in hospice had a hospital stay in the final month of life. McKnight's Long-Term Care News (10/15)
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Palliative & Hospice Care Update
Research compares end-of-life care for surgical, medical patients
Data from the Veterans Health Administration from 2008 to 2012 showed 38.3% of surgical patients were given palliative or hospice care in their last year of life, compared with 41% of medical patients. The study in JAMA Surgery found both palliative and hospice services increased over the course of the study. Medscape (free registration) (10/10)
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NIH online conference examines management of opioids
Palliative care physician Sydney Dy writes in Pallimed that opioids are an important palliative care tool that carry risk that should be assessed continually. In summarizing an NIH Web conference, Dy writes that there is little new, high-quality evidence on opioids, and there is a fine line between dependence and tolerance and addiction. Also, there is less difference between cancer and noncancer pain than many people believe, she writes. Pallimed blog (10/14)
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Coalition promotes end-of-life care awareness among Chinese Americans
Traditional Chinese culture does not include talking about death or medical care prior to an illness, which makes it difficult for family members to make decisions for terminally ill loved ones, said registered nurse Sandy Chen Stokes of the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care. The coalition is among the groups in California offering training in the Chinese community for hospice and palliative care volunteers, removing language barriers, educating families about end-of-life planning, and linking palliative care to spirituality. New America Media (10/14)
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Patient & Family Perspective
Caregiving may take a toll on young people's health
Caring for sick family members was linked to physical and emotional stress among youths, according to a study of young caregivers in Palm Beach County, Fla. These caregivers spent an average of two hours each school day and four hours on weekend days looking after the needs of family members with mental or physical illnesses or substance abuse problems. The findings were presented at the AAP meeting. HealthDay News (10/13)
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Medical Research
Research traces chain of events that leads to Alzheimer's
A study in the journal Nature has validated the theory that amyloid deposition begins the process of Alzheimer's disease development. Stem cells were coaxed to become neurons in a petri dish. A gene linked to Alzheimer's induced beta amyloid plaques and tangles with the help of an enzyme that may prove a useful target for stopping the disease. Researchers plan to use the system, dubbed "Alzheimer's in a Dish," for a variety of applications. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (10/13), Voice of America (10/12), HealthDay News (10/13)
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Health Policy & Practice
Eisai's drug for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting wins FDA nod
Eisai has won the FDA's approval to market Akynzeo, a combination of palonosetron and Netupitant, as a treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Reuters (10/10)
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Trends & Technology
Long-term-care providers gear up for new e-prescribing standard
The long-term-care sector is preparing to change the standard that it uses for e-prescribing under a federal mandate that the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs' SCRIPT should be used starting November. According to Terri Weckle of software vendor PointClickCare, version 10.6 of SCRIPT offers better support for LTC and post-acute-care facilities, but some complex orders can surpass a character limit for medication descriptions. Health Data Management (10/9)
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Many providers lack capacity to take on Big Data, analytics
A MeriTalk survey found that while health care providers expressed positive views about tools to optimize EMR data, 96% lack the infrastructure to fully take advantage of Big Data, analytics and other tools. However, providers say such technologies will help them save money, according to the report. Healthcare IT News (10/13)
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Society & Ethics
Byock: "Legalizing assisted suicide fixes nothing"
The idea of physician-assisted suicide is gaining attention due to deficiencies in the care of seriously ill and dying patients, but it does not address what needs to be improved, palliative care expert Dr. Ira Byock writes. "Moral outrage is appropriate and needed to fix the sorry state of dying in America," Bycok said. "Legalizing assisted suicide fixes nothing." The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (10/6)
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Review articles from the recent issue of JPSM
The October issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (JPSM) is now available. Read the highlights at
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Submit a case proposal for the 2015 AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly
Are you interested in presenting at the 2015 Annual Assembly in Philadelphia? AAHPM and HPNA's call for Case submission is open through Nov. 3. Submit a proposal today.
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Who's Hiring?
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PhysicianHospice Care NetworkNassau and Suffolk Counties, NY
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Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."
-- Kahlil Gibran,
Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer
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