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Hastings Center News

Aspen Institute Invites Hastings Center President to Offer Insights on End-of Life-Care

The new Aspen Health Strategies Group (ASHG), formed by the Aspen Institute, just issued an important report recommending five critical ways to improve care near the end of life.  Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon was one of four national experts invited to advise the Aspen group and develop a chapter in its report. In her chapter, Solomon discusses the limitations of our established ethics framework and its primary emphasis on patient self-determination, or autonomy, to the neglect of care and community support.

The AHSG is chaired by two former U.S. Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius and Tommy G. Thompson. The bipartisan leaders will share the recommendations with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Trump administration.

“Current experience with the limitations of informed consent, the persistence of unnecessary harms, and well-documented disparities in end-of-life care suggest that placing autonomy as the primary ethical value has not generated the care system people desire,” writes Solomon in her chapter, “Doing Right By the Seriously Ill.”

“How then can we build a system that is better equipped to handle the needs of patients near the end of life?” She calls for a more relational ethic, that doesn’t just stop at preserving patients’ rights or attending to their medical needs, but that goes on to build systems of care, capable of addressing the social and logistical needs of elders and their families, helping people to live longer with higher quality of life in their own homes and communities.