, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 315-319

“Serious and complex illness” in quality improvement and policy reform for end-of-life care

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Abstract

Americans are living longer — a mark of success in public health and medical care — but more will live the last few years with progressive illness and disability. The dominant conception of care delivery separates “aggressive” or life-extending care from “palliative” or death-accepting care, with an assumed “transition” between them. The physiology and the experience of this population are mismatched in this model. Here, we propose a more useful category for public policy and clinical quality improvement: persons who will die as a result of “serious and complex illness.” Delivery system changes could ensure reliable, continuous, and competent care to this population.