What treatments are appropriate when it comes to end-of-life care?

Date posted: 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

There is currently a great deal of interest and debate around the subject of end-of-life care in Canada. With the federal government introducing legislation to legalize medically-assisted death, and ever-rising health-care costs, what constitutes appropriate end-of-life care is a relevant and sensitive issue.

Data access has been approved for a study, the first of its kind in Canada, to examine the use of futile treatments in terminally-ill cancer and cardiac patients, to provide a clearer picture of the current palliative care landscape in BC.

“Futile medical care is defined as the continued provision of medical care or treatment to a patient when there is no reasonable hope of a cure or benefit,” says Mr Davis Sam, a graduate student studying for a Masters in Health Administration at the University of British Columbia.

The study, supervised by Dr. Winson Cheung, a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency, will describe current palliative care practices for cancer and cardiac patients in BC; examine the use of futile interventions for common comorbidities in terminally-ill patients; and identify deficiencies, if any, in the management of terminally-ill patients.

“We hope that by determining the degree to which futile interventions in end-of-life patients may be excessive, we may be better able to inform health administrators and providers, terminally-ill patients and their families, and the general public about appropriate end-of-life care.”

Mr. Sam believes that the results of the project will help to empower both patients and physicians to specifically address some of these deficient areas and ultimately improve the quality of care for terminally-ill patients.

PopData will link data from the BC Ministry of Health, the BC Vital Statistics Agency, and the BC Cancer Agency with PharmaNet data for the project.

Page last revised: May 11, 2016