SOURCE: NHPCO

May 31, 2007 10:51 ET

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Restates Its Position on End-of-Life Care

ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwire - May 31, 2007) - On June 1, Jack Kevorkian will be released from prison after serving eight years in a Michigan correctional facility. Dr. Kevorkian is known to many for his practices involving assisted suicide.

As Kevorkian returns home, the California Assembly is expected to debate legislation involving physician assisted death -- a discussion other state legislators have engaged in since the passage of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act which made Oregon the only state with a current law providing for physician assisted death for patients with a terminal illness.

As attention turns to the release of Kevorkian and anticipated debate on end-of-life issues, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the nation's oldest and largest non-profit organization working to improve care at the end of life, would like to restate its position.

NHPCO promotes excellence in care for all patients with life-limiting illnesses and their family caregivers. NHPCO does not support the legalization of physician assisted suicide. Foundational values of NHPCO include:

--  Universal access to high-quality hospice and palliative care that
    facilitates safe and comfortable dying;
--  Fully informed decision-making regarding care, treatment, and
    services;
--  Provision of care that meets medical, emotional, psychosocial, and
    spiritual needs of patients and families and mitigates unwanted suffering;
--  Non-abandonment of patients;
--  Support for the bereaved.
    
As an organization, NHPCO does not support Kevorkian's methods or practices. The organization does recognize the role he played in bringing debate about end-of-life issues to national attention. Kevorkian was intent on finding a better way to relieve suffering at the end of life. NHPCO believes that quality hospice and palliative care services can meet the needs of patients and their families that are dealing with the challenges of life-limiting illness.

Hospice brings dignity, compassion and high-quality care to those in need and places the priorities and wishes of the patient at the center of care. Last year, more than 1.2 million patients received care from the nation's hospices. The increase in palliative care programs and services is bringing quality care to many persons earlier in the course of their illness.

NHPCO's position statement on PAS is available online, http://www.nhpco.org/files/public/PAS_Resolution_Commentary.pdf. Additional information on hospice and palliative care is available at www.caringinfo.org.

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