End-of-Life Care

In response to emerging ethical, clinical and legal issues regarding end-of-life care, the College established end-of-life care as a priority for policy development and education. A panel of experts was convened to develop ethical, policy, and clinical recommendations based on consensus that would promote high quality palliative care. Funding from the Greenwall Foundation supported this effort.

The Consensus Panel identified issues for which consensus recommendations would be most helpful to physicians and other healthcare providers. The development of the recommendations on these topics entailed discussions among the Consensus Panel experts, literature reviews, and an extensive external review process by other experts in the field, as well as by clinicians in practice.

Although the papers do not constitute official College policy, they were presented in draft form for comment and approval by the ACP Ethics and Human Rights Committee, as well as for comments by the Education Committee, the Board of Governors, and the Board of Regents. The papers were published in leading medical journals. Read the End-of-Life Care Papers.

Patient Education Work Group

In conjunction with the Consensus Panel project, the College convened a second group of experts to develop patient education materials and web content on end-of-life care to serve as companion pieces to the Consensus Panel papers.

ACP's End-of-Life Care PEACE Series patient education brochures are available in print or to view online. The PEACE Series also includes resources for physicians.

More End-of-Life Care Resources

ACP has a number of resources available on end-of-life care issues including refusal of life-sustaining treatment, advance care planning, palliative medicine and other end-of-life care issues. The Ethics Manual, Sixth Edition as well as end-of-life care consensus papers and patient education brochures provide guidance and support for physicians and their patients. Read About End-of-Life Resources

ACP encourages adults with decision-making capacity to talk to their doctor and families about their wishes in the event that one day they cannot make their own health care decisions.

ACP formally supported legislation to pay for voluntary end-of-life care consultations (see H.R. 1898, the Life Sustaining Treatment Preferences Act of 2009).

For more information the End-of-Life Care Project, contact Lois Snyder Sulmasy at lsnyder@acponline.org, or at 215.351.2835.