ReachMD Partnership Sounds Like a Success

Have you heard yet that AAHPM has partnered with ReachMD, an innovative communications company, providing thought-provoking medical news and information to healthcare practitioners? More importantly, have you listened?

Established to help increasingly time-constrained medical providers stay abreast of new research, treatment protocols and continuing education requirements, ReachMD delivers innovative and informative radio programming via XM Satellite Radio Channel 160 and online streaming developed by doctors for doctors.

The Perspectives in Palliative Medicine series has been a huge success. With over 650 people downloading shows and others listening at home or in their cars, so many are tuning in to hear about key issues in palliative care. The latest programs,, hosted by AAHPM Executive Vice President Porter Storey, MD, include :

The Challenges to Pain Management in Geriatric Patients – 04/12/2010, with R. Sean Morrison, MD
Religious Issues Affecting End of Life Care – 04/05/2010, with Richard Payne, MD
Palliative Care’s Role in Treatment of the Seriously Ill - 03/29/2010 with Russell K. Portenoy, MD
Warning Shot: How to Deliver Difficult News – 03/22/2010, with Gail Austin Cooney, MD.
We are proud of our members who have done such a wonderful job representing the profession. If you haven’t listened yet, check it out, if you have, share your thoughts with us!

Jen Fuhrman
e-Marketing Manager


AAHPM President Reacts to Misleading HPM News Article

AAHPM submitted the following letter to US News & World Report in response to Dr. Bernadine Healy’s “On Health” column from the recent February 2010 Special Issue – “Aging Well” – which included some misleading comments about hospice and palliative medicine. We encourage AAHPM members to post their thoughts at the end of the article in the Reader Comments section.

Letter to the Editor

US News & World Report

February 12, 2010

Bernadine Healy is correct when she says that patients need to be informed about their health care, including end-of-life care (On Health, February 2010 – Special Issue: Aging Well). As a doctor who specializes in hospice and palliative medicine, I have always urged patients to have living wills and to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care with their doctors and family members.

But some information Dr. Healy presents about palliative medicine is simply incorrect, and suggests that expanding the availability of palliative medicine will limit options for people with serious illness. Exactly the opposite is true.

Palliative medicine is a board-certified medical specialty that focuses on relieving suffering and providing support and care coordination for patients with serious illnesses, regardless of age or prognosis, or whether curative treatments are being given. Many of our patients recover from their illnesses and credit palliative medicine with making grueling curative treatments bearable.

Studies show that palliative medicine decreases hospital admissions, and Dr. Healy fears this goal of health care reform will result in premature death for patients with chronic and incurable illnesses. Palliative medicine keeps patients out of hospitals by relieving their symptoms and coordinating their out-patient care, which often reduces the need for hospitalization. It’s better for the patient and the family. And, yes, it saves the system money.

Dr. Healy refers to “so-called terminal sedation” and seems to suggest that this is one way that hospice care – a specific type of palliative care – might be used to hasten death, and cut costs. I believe she is referring to “palliative sedation.” Palliative sedation is used – rarely – to bring relief to patients already near the end of life whose pain and suffering are overwhelming and otherwise uncontrollable. When it is necessary, and a patient chooses it, palliative sedation can enable us to fulfill our promise to help our patients face death with some comfort and control.

My colleagues and I chose to practice palliative medicine to ease pain and suffering, and give patients more control over their care. The health care reform debate has brought attention to our specialty – not always accurately. We want people – especially those who may need the care we provide – to have the facts. They can find them at

Gail Austin Cooney, MD


American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine