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Money Drives Aggressive End-of-Life Treatment

Posted Jun 05 2011 6:50am
On my summer reading list is Mark Rodwin's  Conflicts of Interest and the Future of Medicine .  One specific manifestation of the broader problem is illustrated in an article in today's  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  that discusses the role of money on end-of-life treatment.  "Hospitals and doctors make more money by aggressively treating terminal patients than by keeping them free of pain and letting them die with dignity."     

Dr. Gail Gazelle explained:  "It's impossible to remove money from the discussion because doctors are paid more to treat — not talk. . . .  "Physicians are reimbursed much, much, much, much less for actually communicating."  Dr. David Goodman similarly explained:  "Money is an unconscious influence that we as professionals can't pretend doesn't exist. . . .  It's like being in a slow-moving but powerful river, where the current is hard to overcome. You might not even be aware of it, but you can't deny that it's there."  

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