According to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, hospitals by and large might go through the right processes to help patients admitted in life-threatening circumstances, but if those efforts aren’t successful, not enough effort is expended on care to ease patient pain at the end of their lives. Researchers examined “quality indicators” designed to measure the quality of end-of-life care and pain management for patients at a university medical center recognized for providing intensive care for the seriously ill. They assessed the records of nearly 500 adult patients hospitalized for at least 3 days over a one-year period. Patients admitted to the intensive care unit received the right care approximately 70 percent of the time, with nearly all receiving proper pain assessments and treatments for pain. However, follow-up for distressing symptoms was performed “less well than initial assessment,” concluded the researchers—29 percent of patients were experiencing pain on breathing tubes that had to be removed and 15 percent died while receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation. “Patients often die in the hospital with distressing symptoms while receiving burdensome care,” they concluded, stressing that more attention needs to be paid to the quality of care and easing symptoms when death is imminent.
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