Ep. 27 February End of the Month Update on the End-of-Life with Dr. Karen Wyatt

In this February Update on End-of-Life Issues, Dr. Wyatt will discuss:

  • Medical schools put more emphasis on pain management education to help reduce over-prescribing of opioid medications, misuse of these drugs and subsequent OD’s, which have doubled in the past decade.
  • Dementia rates appear to be falling in the U.S. according to a recent report in NEJM due to the level of education and improved heart health of the senior population.
  • Prison hospices face a challenge in meeting the needs of dying patients for pain medications due to risks of misuse of meds within the prison walls.
  •  Johns Hopkins study published in JAMA shows impact of stress on family caregivers. New website caretransitions.org has tools and resources for caregivers and also to train “care transitions coaches” who can educate community members on the skills needed to become an effective caregiver. Hopefully this will alleviate some caregiver stress and increase the number of available caregivers.
  • Talk about the newly-released book “When Breath Becomes Air” by 36 y.o. neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi who wrote the book while dying of cancer.
  • Emergency care nurse instituted “The Pause” at a UVa hospital after a death in the ER to show respect and acknowledge the loss of life. Trend is spreading to other hospitals.
  • Similarly a photo circulated on Facebook showing doctors in China bowing to an 11 y.o. boy who asked that, after his death from a brain tumor, his organs be donated to save the lives of others. The medical staff bowed 3 times to honor his bravery and selflessness. Beautiful!
  • Article about homeless people dying on the streets and the need for options to care for those without suitable homes available as they are dying. Discussed the “social model hospice” option. See Episode 23 from February 1st for more info about the social model hospice.

About kwyattmd

Karen Wyatt MD is a family physician who has spent much of her 25 year medical career working with patients in challenging settings, such as hospice, nursing homes and indigent clinics. She is interested in a spiritual approach to medicine, illness, death and dying and is the author of two books. Check out her website at www.karenwyattmd.com
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