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End of Life Discussion Gives Peace Of Mind, Savings

Talking to your doctor about how much intensive care you want at the end of life is associated with a more peaceful death and significant savings.

WBUR's Martha Bebinger has more.

BEBINGER: Researchers at Dana Farber say cancer patients who did not discuss end of life care wishes with their doctor were more likely to go on a ventilator or undergo other aggressive procedures.

They also experienced more physical and mental pain and did not extend their life beyond patients that have a care plan conversation with their physician.

Study author Holly Prigerson says a moderate increase in such discussions could save $76 million a year just among cancer patients.

PRIGERSON: So it's an unusual circumstance of a win win. When there are cost savings, it's usually associated with some pain. Here, it's literally the opposite, there's more palliative, better quality of life, with lower costs.

BEBINGER: The study is in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

This program aired on March 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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