Colorado physician says it’s time to improve the end of life in America

October 27, 2014
Photo: Dying in America - Jean Kutner
Dr. Jean Kutner
University of Colorado Hospital Chief Medical Officer Jean Kutner served on the committee that authored the report, which points to ways individuals, care providers and policies could change to improve how people die in this country. One idea, simply getting people to consider and talk about what they would want to happen at the end of their lives with their loved ones and health care providers. And they ought to put those wishes in writing.
"People don’t want to die in institutions yet that’s where they die most often, in an institution like a hospital or nursing home,” Kutner says.
Photo: Dying in America - Jean Kutner with patient(Photo: Courtesy of CU School of Medicine)
Dr. Jean Kutner talks to a patient at University of Colorado Hospital.
A shortage of physicians and other medical professionals trained in palliative care is another problem noted in the report.
“Palliative care isn’t just for end of life,” says Kutner. "Palliative care focuses on enhancing the quality of life and reducing suffering for people with a serious illness, no matter what their prognosis is.”
Colorado has about one palliative care doctor for every 75,000 people, Kutner says. So, she says, it is critical to get more non-specialists trained to do some palliative care within their own practices.