End-Of-Life Care in Massachusetts Needs Improvement, Panel Says

About 70% of people who die is Mass. want to be at home for their final days. However, a new, intensive three year study on end of life care finds that instead 70% are dying in hospitals.

The intensive three year study, conducted by a panel of experts ranging from doctors and nurses to health insurance companies to state workers was conducted at the behest of Governor Patrick as part of the Massachusetts health care reform package. The report was released this week.

The panelists determined that overall the state is doing a good job in treating patients who are nearing their last days, with a life expectancy higher than average, which is just over 77 years nationally according to the CDC. And, hospice care is being covered by more providers than a decade ago. But the report entitled “Patient Centered Care and Human Mortality” recommends a number of measures to ensure better outcomes.

The first is for the state to launch an awareness campaign urging people to appoint health care agents, and start planning for their end of life care earlier, before it's too late to make any real changes.
The next is statewide implementation of a program called MOLST, Medical Orders For Life Sustaining Treatment, which produces a formal document outlining the patient's wishes.

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