October 1, 2022

Patient feedback leads to a better death

Asking terminal patients about how well they are being cared for may be an easy, cost-free way of improving their quality of life. Bioethicists at the University of Toronto asked 36 seriously ill patients how they perceived their care. Three-quarters of them thought it was good or excellent — an encouraging statistic, but one that left room for improvement. But when a doctor routinely asked patients about their concerns and then relayed their responses to medical staff, a third of them reported that care had improved.

“This study offers the promise of an inexpensive way to tackle the problem of B-grade end-of-life care,” says Dr Peter Singer (not to be confused with the Australian ethicist). “Needed, quite simply, is more systematic, direct and intense patient feedback to doctors and other hospital staff.”