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Palliative Care Expert Available to Discuss Just Released Dartmouth Atlas Project's Report on Cancer Care at End of Life


Camela Morrissey, 718-670-2985
David Levine, 212-772-9447 (After 11/17/10)

Report Finds No Consistent Pattern of Care and
Underutilization of Palliative Care and Hospice Services

Flushing, N.Y., November 16, 2010– Whether Medicare patients with advanced cancer will die while receiving hospice care or in the hospital varies markedly depending on where they live and receive care, according to the Dartmouth Atlas Project’s* first-ever report on cancer care at the end of life.

Cynthia X. Pan, M.D, Director, Palliative Care at New York Hospital Queens, said “the Dartmouth Atlas Project report demonstrates the need for both a national standard of care for hospitals that treat advanced cancer patients and better communication about the availability of hospice and palliative care.”

Among the key findings:

  • There was no consistent pattern of care or evidence that treatment patterns follow patient preferences, even among the nation’s leading academic medical centers.
  • Geography is destiny. The differences in death rates at hospitals were based solely on where a person lived: from over 40 percent in the New York metropolitan region (the rate in Manhattan was 46.7 percent and East Long Island was 42.5 percent) to 7 percent in a hospital in Mason City, Iowa. 
  • Discussions of end-of-life care have become polarized; framing patients’ choices as cure versus care, hospital versus hospice, and life versus death.
  • Although hospice and palliative care has been proven to be compassionate and effective too many patients never get it or get it too late.

Dr. Pan believes one of the key roadblocks in discussing palliative care options with patients is that while physicians are good at treating and diagnosing illness they are not as good as estimating and communicating prognosis with patients which causes unnecessary grief and anxiety to cancer patients and their families.

New York Hospital Queens is a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.


Note to Editors: 
Dr. Pan is available for interviews. She is a member of the American Society of Internal Medicine, The American Geriatrics Society, the Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Chinese American Medical Society. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.

*The Dartmouth Atlas Project is run by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and principally funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A link to the full study can be found at www.dartmouthatlas.org

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