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Clin Chest Med. 1997 Sep;18(3):645-55.

Advanced lung disease. Palliation and terminal care.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA.


Considering that lung disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, remarkably little has been written about palliative care for patients who die of respiratory disease. Because most such deaths are anticipated, palliative care should begin with advance medical planning, ideally in the form of a prescheduled meeting among the physician, the patient, and the patient's proxy for health affairs. Home hospice care should be considered when a patient with progressive lung disease is largely confined to the bedroom because of dyspnea. Medical attention during the terminal phase of a respiratory illness should focus on the experience of the patient. Common symptoms amenable to counseling and pharmacotherapy include dyspnea, pain, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. If initiated to no benefit, mechanical ventilation can be terminally withdrawn with the concurrence of the patient or family. The withdrawal process should be family centered, and followed by continued supportive care until the patient dies.

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