End-of-Life Care: The Reality of Life and Death

How Modern Medicine has Changed the Way People Live and Die

Within very few decades, the reality of life and death has dramatically transformed. The main reason for the changes is the development of modern medicine used in diagnosing and treating diseases. Due to the advances, there is an increase in life expectancy because treatment for most diseases and conditions has evolved. Technology has made medicine more advanced, and there are chances of postponing death, such as by using life support (Gawande, 2014). Even if there is no treatment for a disease, death does not have to be a course for distress and suffering. Saul (2011) suggests that even death has become easier and more comfortable due to quality end-of-life care. Nowadays, in most cases, death is a less unexpected and sudden event, allowing people, patients, and their families, to prepare for it.

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The four Main Ways People Die

The ways of death have been categorized into three groups, natural causes, homicide, accidental death, and suicide. Natural causes involve the body stopping to work on its own or due to an underlying factor like a disease. Homicide involves the cause of death that results when premeditated murder is carried out. It occurs when a person takes the life of another. Accidental death results from other causes besides natural causes, suicide, or homicide. It includes manslaughter. Suicide death involves taking one’s own life due to emotional stress or other psychological reasons.

The Importance of Transitional Care Plans and Coordination of Care

Kripalani et al. (2007) discuss the vulnerability of the patient when they are discharged from the hospital. Discharge from the hospital means that the patient is no longer under the watchful care of the health care providers. The patients are also sent out with some drugs, which have been revealed to cause medical errors and adverse effects. This suggests the importance of continued high-quality care once the patients are discharged to pave the way for an effective transition from hospital to out-of-hospital care. Coordination has been proposed to achieve effective transition and quality of care (The Joint Commission, 2016; National Transitions of Care Coalition, n.d.). Coordination of care at this stage entails organizing the activities involved in addressing the patient’s needs, communicating and sharing information between the primary care providers and those providing the out-of-hospital care (Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, 2014). The patient’s needs, as identified during the hospital stay, will be shared and communicated to those taking care of the patient outside the hospital.

Nature of Quality of End-of-Life Care

End-of-life care involves providing health care services that are aimed at making life as comfortable for the patient as possible. In most cases, the patients do not remain in the hospital but spend time at home or in other care facilities. Following discharge from the hospital, quality care should be provided by professionals who should coordinate with the primary care providers (Coleman, n.d.). Medical or nursing homes are better suited to provide the kind of care required at this stage of life (The White House, n.d.). The care providers in these facilities should be trained on quality of care measures and should also invest in promoting self-care to make end of life more manageable. At this stage, quality of care also involves planning for and communicating end-of-life wishes (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, n.d.)


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Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (2014, October). Care Coordination. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/improve/coordination/

Coleman, E. (n.d.). The Care Transitions Program | Program Overview. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.caretransitions.org/

Gawande, A. (2014). Introduction. In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (First ed., pp. 1-10). New York: Metropolitan Books. NIH http://www.amazon.com/Being-Mortal-Medicine-What-Matters/dp/0805095152

Kripalani, S., Jackson, A., Schnipper, J., & Coleman, E. (2007). Promoting Effective Transitions Of Care At Hospital Discharge: A Review Of Key Issues For Hospitalists. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 2(5), 314-323.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. (n.d.). Planning Ahead: Advance Directives. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3284

National Transitions of Care Coalition. (n.d.). Guidelines for a Hospital Stay: For Patient, Family & Caregiver. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.ntocc.org/Portals/0/PDF/Resources/Hospital_Guide.pdf

Saul, P. (2011, November). Let’s talk about dying. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from https://www.ted.com/talks/peter_saul_let_s_talk_about_dying?language=en

The Joint Commission. (2016). Transitions of Care Portal. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.jointcommission.org/toc.aspx

The White House (n.d.) The Affordable Care Act Gives America’s Seniors Greater Control Over Their Own Health Care. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/health_reform_for_seniors.pdf


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