Physicians unhappy with palliative care act

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New York State's Palliative Care Information Act, which was passed last summer and implemented in February, is meeting resistance from doctors who treat patients at the end of their life.
 
The law was created to help terminally ill patients get more information about their end-of-life options, such as palliative and hospice care, and it requires physicians to provide this information, according to The New York Times. The law's advocates say the policy helps lower costs and prevents patients and their families from pursuing aggressive or experimental treatments that have little chance of helping. California passed a similar law in 2009.
 
But physicians say the policy intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship, according to an editorial printed in the May issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Some doctors say their patients interpret it to mean that the healthcare system wants them to die sooner.
 
However, proponents of the law say it actually is intended to make a patient's end-of-life days emotionally and physically less painful. The patient can choose palliative care over measures such as feeding tubes or ventilators, the Times stated. Typically, hospice and palliative efforts are designed to treat pain and anxiety. Some studies show that palliative care often extends life, whereas side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy can make patients even sicker.
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