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Hastings Center News

Nancy Berlinger Co-Authors Palliative Care Recommendations

Hastings Center research scholar Nancy Berlinger is an author of a new policy statement on palliative care issued by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The statement makes recommendations on how to reduce barriers that prevent many patients with heart disease and stroke from receiving palliative care, which focuses on communication and shared decision-making about treatment options and relieving the physical, emotional, and spiritual distress experienced by patients and their families.

Among the recommendations: federal and state agencies should reimburse for palliative care services, payers and providers should share data to identify patients in need of palliative care, health care systems should develop policies for palliative care during hospitalizations, and training should be improved to expand the number of health care providers who can deliver high-quality palliative care.

Berlinger has expertise in treatment decision-making and care near the end of life and in the organizational and social ethics of care for people with chronic, often age-associated conditions. She directs a project on improving end-of-life care in the hospital, a collaboration of The Hastings Center, the Society of Hospital Medicine, and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses focused on primary palliative care delivered by hospitalists and nurses. This collaboration has developed a process for these clinicians to discuss goals of care with seriously ill hospitalized patients. .

In addition, Berlinger directed the research project that produced a revised and expanded edition of The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life and is the first author of that book. Her most recent book is Are Workarounds Ethical? Managing Moral Problems in Health Care Systems.