Most patients with life-limiting illnesses prioritize quality over quantity of life. When faced with important medical decisions, these same patients would place a greater emphasis on likely outcomes of the treatments being considered than the burdens of the actual treatments.
Unfortunately, in our current system, health care providers do a poor job understanding the needs of these patients and often presume that a highly medicalized care plan is desired.
Conversations about the use of potentially life-sustaining treatment are done quickly and lack the critical components patients need to make informed decisions.
Through integration of palliative care principles into emergency medicine and critical care practice, providers can begin to re-align themselves with their patients and better understand how to get each patient the highest quality end-of-life experience.