Abstract

In the U.S. health care system, and in those of many other countries, the care of dying patients is generally not performed well, with pain and other distress frequently undertreated and patients’ preferences not respected. England's evidence-based End of Life Care Strategy could prove instructive. This issue brief discusses the origins, content, and implementation of the Strategy, as well as its potential impact. Both England and the United States struggle with similar challenges, including looking beyond the province of hospice and palliative-care specialists and initiating palliative services before the patient's final days. Aspects of the English approach that may be useful in the United States include strategies to help physicians recognize when patients are entering a trajectory that may end in death, the use of "death at home" as a metric for measuring progress, improving the skills of clinical and caregiving personnel through Web-based training, and developing a national improvement pathway.