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Troubling Abundance of Care: Over-treatment at the End of Life

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:32am

The New Jersey Star-Ledgerreports about a conference I'll be attending on Monday.

New Jersey's intensive use of medical care at the end of life -- the most aggressive in the nation -- will be examined at a day-long medical conference Monday at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Physicians, ethicists and other experts in end-of-life care will discuss ways to bring more compassion and candor to medical care so patients will avoid treatments that do not prolong life or improve the quality of life.

The conference is titled "A Troubling Abundance of Care: Over-treatment at the End of Life." The title refers to a December three-part series in The Star-Ledger that examined over-treatment of dying patients. The series noted that the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care found that patients in New Jersey see more physicians and specialists, get more tests and procedures, and are more likely to die in the hospital than patients anywhere else in nation.

Yet experts said these patients do not live any longer or have improved quality of life because of the extra treatment.

Dartmouth researcher David Goodman and other educators, physicians, lawyers and theologians are to discuss ways to change the culture that leads to overtreatment. Star-Ledger medical reporter Carol Ann Campbell, who wrote the series, will also participate.

Stockton College President Herman Saatkamp, a biomedical ethicist, will welcome participants to the conference, which is sponsored by the Southern Jersey Ethics Alliance and other organizations. The keynote speaker will be Arthur Caplan, chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. Experts from the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Stockton College and several medical systems will talk about ways to improve end of life care in New Jersey.

Additional information is at http://www.stockton.edu/hshs.

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