Medical Minute 02-21

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Every day, terminally ill patients flood emergency rooms. They often receive invasive treatments - even if they only have months or weeks left to live. These therapies can be dangerous and costly. Patients spend 40-percent of their medicare expenses in their last month of life. Now - one hospital is trying to remedy the problem by combining two fields of medicine. Andrew McIntosh explains.

Mattie McDowel is planning for something most people don't like to think about - her death. She has stage-four breast cancer and not a lot of time left. She wants to spend her last days at home and not in the hospital.

Doctor Mark Rosenberg says while 70 percent of people die in a healthcare setting Doctor Rosenberg heads one of the country's only palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) care programs that operates out of the hospital's emergency room.

Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. Instead of repeat trips to the emergency room or extended hospital stays, the team helps these terminal patients find ways to stay home.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that if palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) care was fully integrated into U.S. hospitals, healthcare spending could be reduced by six-billion dollars a year! A recent study also found those who receive this type of care report less depression, pain, nausea and worry and survived two-point-seven months longer.

As for Mattie, she wants to spend her last days at home…with her loved ones.

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