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J Okla State Med Assoc. 2001 Mar;94(3):79-84.

Hospice: an underutilized resource.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, VA Medical Center (11G), Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Almost every physician, regardless of specialty, will confront a dying patient. Yet, surprisingly, little formal attention is given to training physicians to care for the terminally ill. The aging of the population, with the numerous chronic debilitating and malignant conditions associated with growing older, has focused attention on palliative care. Hospice and palliative care philosophy lays emphasis on relieving suffering and improving quality of life at the end of life in order to permit experiences that will have positive meaning. The role of the physician is central in providing this care. The physician must provide care in an honest and compassionate manner, with attention to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the patient and the caregivers. This article focuses on the philosophy of palliative care including the concepts of hospice programs, the role of the physician in providing this care, Medicare hospice benefit, and barriers to effective end-of-life care.

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