Experts: Earlier hospice is part of end-of-life quality care | Physicians can learn best ways to deliver bad or serious news | Hospice music therapy offers comfort, promotes quality of life
January 29, 2016
Hospice and Palliative Medicine SmartBrief
News for physicians caring for the seriously ill

Top Story
Experts: Earlier hospice is part of end-of-life quality care
Dying patients should be referred to hospice sooner in their illness to receive the best quality care at the end of life, medical experts said. Dr. Thomas Smith, director of palliative medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said more end-of-life inpatient care is being followed by an "abrupt discharge to home and then death." HealthLeaders Media (1/28)
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Palliative & Hospice Care Update
Physicians can learn best ways to deliver bad or serious news
Oncologists often give patients bad medical news, but Dr. Gregg VandeKieft, medical director for palliative care at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Renton, Wash., said family physicians also give out bad news, along with serious news that may not mean a terminal illness but can be related to medical conditions or diseases. There are programs and training to help physicians learn to deliver bad and serious news without undermining patient trust or good patient communication. Medscape (free registration) (1/27)
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Hospice music therapy offers comfort, promotes quality of life
Trained music therapists can work with hospice and palliative care patients to improve their quality of life, help increase their physical comfort, promote self-expression and emotional processing, and create positive legacies for loved ones. Certified music-thanatologist Barbara Jean O'Brien says she creates "responsive or prescriptive music" for people at the end of life, using a process that begins with learning about the patient's health from family and caregivers. Pallimed blog (1/25), Bangor Daily News (Maine) (free registration) (1/28)
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Patient & Family Perspective
Caregivers are getting help, but advocates push for more support
Caregiver advocates say progress is being made nationwide in efforts to give family caregivers help and support, and even members of Congress are speaking up about the issue. An AARP report said Medicare and Medicaid changes, respite care organizations, workplace flexibility, and new federal and state policies have helped, but advocates also are pushing for Social Security benefits for unpaid caregivers and incentives for companies that offer caregivers flexible schedules. The Philadelphia Inquirer (1/24)
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Medical Research
Study supports informing patients of some incidental findings from gene tests
A study involving 257 adults who did not show signs of Alzheimer's disease found that disclosing the results of genetic tests, including incidental findings on cardiovascular disease risk, might ease long-term worry. More than half of the study participants had a close relative with Alzheimer's disease, and all were informed of the test result for an AD-associated allele of the apolipoprotein E gene. Carriers of the high-risk variant of the APOE who were also told about the CVD link had lower levels of distress and higher adoption of healthy behaviors than participants told only about their Alzheimer's risk status. Reuters (1/25)
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Study: Omega-3 fatty acids may help B vitamins slow dementia
Omega-3 fatty acids may work with B vitamins to slow the development of dementia in people with mild cognitive impairment, according to new research. The team studied more than 250 people diagnosed with MCI for two years and found that high omega-3 levels were associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline in those given a B vitamin supplement. Oxford University professor David Smith is hopeful the findings will help keep patients with MCI from developing Alzheimer's disease with a combination of omega-3 supplementation and B vitamins, and he said the question should be evaluated in a new study. (South Africa) (1/22)
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Other News
Health Policy & Practice
Study compares quality improvement performance
Hospital-employed doctors met more quality improvement goals than community doctors or pediatricians, a comparative study found. Community physicians who were offered a small incentive saw more gains on five quality measures than community physicians who were offered no incentive. Physicians employed by hospitals might have greater access to EHRs and decision-support tools, the researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics. Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (1/25)
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Past malpractice payment might flag future risk, research suggests
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Researchers found that 32% of paid malpractice claims were concentrated among just 1% of US physicians, according to a 15-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Findings also show that once a claim is paid for a given physician, that doctor is more likely to pay another. Median claim payment was $205,000, according to the research. Reuters (1/27)
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Trends & Technology
ACOs struggle to integrate patient care data
A lack of interoperability among health care providers' EHR systems continues to plague accountable care organizations, with 80% of survey respondents saying data integration is their biggest health IT challenge, Premier reports. About 70% of respondents said they have problems integrating data from specialists, about 50% said they cannot integrate data from long-term and post-acute care providers, and 46% said they cannot integrate data from palliative and hospice care providers. Healthcare IT News (1/21)
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Attend the 2016 AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly March 9-12 in Chicago
Join the more than 2,500 hospice and palliative care professionals who meet once each year to gain knowledge directly from leaders in the field. Learn the latest scientific advances. Get inspired and invigorated by captivating speakers who will remind you why you chose to work in hospice and palliative care. Share best practices, ask questions and build long-lasting relationships. Save $100 on the cost of registration when you register by Feb. 1.
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Apply today for the 2016 Sojourn Scholar Leadership Program
The Cambia Health Foundation is now accepting applications until Feb. 26 for the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program which is designed to identify, cultivate and advance the next generation of palliative care physician and nurse leaders. Learn more.
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Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power."
-- Lao Tzu,
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