End-of-life care talk important for doctors

Submitted on Monday November 7th, 2011

Soure: Winston-Salem Journal

By Annette Fuller
Published: February 09, 2011

Doctors’ busy schedules are no excuse for them not taking the time to discuss end-of-life care options with their patients, said Dr. William Blackstock, program director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

“Some of my colleagues do a fabulous job of discussing these issues with their patients,” Blackstock said. “But too many of my colleagues almost never have these discussions until the patient is seriously ill. At that point, they may be taking pain medication that can confuse them. We need to have these conversations sooner than that.”

And it’s not just an issue of doctors not having enough time, he said.

“There is a skill set to this,” Blackstock said. “We are not trained to do this. It’s not something that we emphasize during residencies or fellowships.”

That’s why Blackstock is glad that the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently published a 24-page booklet, available online, that advocates for more involved conversations between patient and doctor earlier in the process about the patient’s choices for care and treatments during his or her last few months of life, if treatments are not successful.