MedSmart Members Releases Death-by-ICU: Free Report on End-of-Life Care in America

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Online publisher MedSmart Members has released a free report entitled Death-by-ICU: End-of-Life Care in America. Noting the ethical issues and political demagoguery around this most challenging of healthcare issues, the report is focused more on the evidence of what dying patients themselves prefer when shown what’s actually entailed in intensive end-of-life treatments – which they unanimously rejected in a study comparing end-of-life treatment choices.

It isn't surprising that aggressive and highly-invasive treatments might shorten survival times when you consider the frail condition of most patients at this end-stage of disease.

MedSmart Members, publisher of Our Healthcare Sucks, has released a free report on end-of-life care in America entitled Death-by-ICU. The report notes the thorny ethical issues raised by end-of-life treatment decisions, but suggests that those concerned about extending the lives of loved ones while respecting their wishes may have it backwards.

The report cites two studies published in 2010 by Harvard Medical School researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital suggesting that dying patients and their families may be operating with the wrong assumptions in making their end-of-life treatment choices. Rather than buying more time for their dying loved ones, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (August 9, 2010) cited in the report found that patients undergoing intensive end-of-life treatments actually died several months sooner than those choosing palliative care that emphasizes pain management and patient comfort.

The second study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (January 10, 2010) and also conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital found that when dying patients were shown videos of what intensive end-of-life treatments actually entailed, they unanimously rejected them. According to John Lynch, the report’s author, “These studies suggest patients and their families should reconsider their assumptions about their end-of-life treatment choices. The evidence suggests that both quality and quantity of life are actually improved with a less-intensive approach to end-of-life treatment decisions…

“It isn’t surprising that aggressive and highly-invasive treatments might shorten survival times when you consider the frail condition of most patients at this end-stage of disease. What’s more surprising is the dramatic turnaround in patient choices when they’re shown videos of what these intensive end-of-life procedures mean for their quality of life. The study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology also found over 50% less depression among patients opting for palliative care compared to those undergoing intensive end-of-life care.”

The subject of end-of-life medical decisions became a political lightning rod in the national debate over healthcare reform, with charges of “death panels” envisioned by some opponents of reform. Death-by-ICU suggests these highly-personal decisions shouldn’t be hijacked by political demagoguery one way or the other.

“These are personal choices that should be made by patients and their families, with guidance from their physicians, and not by third parties of any kind”, according to Lynch, “but they should be fully informed decisions with as much factual understanding of what the likely repercussions of these choices will be...

“Videos of intensive care regimens have proven especially effective at helping patients and their families realistically appraise the likely consequences of opting for intensive end-of-life care – and a unanimous rejection of these intensive treatments by the affected patients is pretty powerful support for a less intensive and more humane approach to the dying process in American healthcare.”

The report is further discussed in a blog post on end-of-life care at, where the report can be downloaded.

The full report is also attached to this press release.
Company Information: Death-by-ICU: End-of-Life Care in America is a publication of MedSmart Members LLC – an online publisher of consumer health information publications. For an overview of additional book publications scheduled for future release, please visit

Contact Information: To find out more about MedSmart Members or Our Healthcare Sucks, please visit or contact John Lynch via email at john(at)medsmartmembers(dot)com or by phone at 1-800-277-6514.

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