(Mirror Daily, United States) – When you reach a certain age, you have to start considering your options. Talking about living wills, hospice, DNR forms, and other such problems should be a normal occurrence in the life of every adult and physician. Even though it sounds like an ordinary task, end-of-life talks are hard for doctors, mostly because they don’t receive proper training for it.
According to the latest survey, approximately one-fifth of the US population will be represented by elderly people by 2030. And the medical system is doing everything in its power to ensure proper care of the patients.
Medicare is reimbursing doctors for end-of-life visits, but it seems that the lack of appropriate funds was just one problem they encountered with this kind of patient care. End-of-life talks are hard for doctors primarily because it’s a tough subject to approach and because they didn’t receive any formal training on the matter.
Most of the surveyed physicians declared that they are the ones who initiate the conversation, and they usually approach a patient how they see fit. Furthermore, the majority of doctors claimed that it would be easier for them to start an end-of-life talk if they had a script, a routine that was previously studied and prepared.
The aforementioned survey was realized on a sample of 736 primary care specialists and physicians. The participants were asked about the way in which they tackle subjects like end-of-life talks and advance care planning.
According to the results of the poll, 75 percent of the participants responded that the $86 reimbursement from Medicare raises the possibility of a doctor having an end-of-life talk with the patients. On the other side, a mere 14 percent of the surveyed doctors admitted billing their patients for such conversations.
Moreover, almost three-quarters think that it’s the physician’s responsibility to initiate such talks, a lot of patients not being informed enough on the matter.
Also, less than 30 percent of the surveyed physicians received any kind of special training that allowed them to initiate the conversations easier.
Furthermore, over half of the doctors that participated in the poll didn’t even discuss the subject with their own caregivers.
End-of-life talks are hard for doctors because they are put in the situation of reminding people that death is imminent. It’s not the same thing as talking about the benefits of exercising, or discussing the advantages of a diet.
The first thing that Med Schools should do is teach them how to approach the subject, ease it in during a routine consult.
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