If Your Only Tool is a Hammer…

… every problem looks like a nail.

This quote is often attributed to Abraham Maslow, and it reflects a sad reality in end-of-life care in the United States today.

As an example, here’s some information from a Washing Post blog.  It restates what we as hospice workers know all too well – cancer (and other) patients in the last several weeks of life want less aggressive treatment, they want to be comfortable and they want to die at home rather than in a hospital.

However, nearly a quarter of patients at cancer centers and hospitals were sent to ICU in the last month of life. And, income considerations for providers seem to play a role:

“Morden thinks that the health care system’s financial incentives may also play a role. She found that at community health centers, where doctors are more likely to be paid based on the volume of medicine they provide, tended to have higher rates of chemotherapy treatment in the last 14 days of life.”

As a result, nearly 30 percent of cancer patients die in hospitals rather than at home, in familiar surroundings, with family and friends. We can – and must – do better.