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American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2008

Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

The Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association took place Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in Tampa, Fla., attracted a record 2,100 attendees, and presented research and sessions aimed at the sponsors' joint goal of improving care for persons with life-limiting progressive illnesses through education.

"One of the big themes was the growing depth and breadth of the evidence base for our specialty," said the AAHPM's executive vice president Porter Storey, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente in Boulder, Colo.

Storey cited several clinical trials that could change the management of symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, delirium and constipation. Among them was a study presented by Wael Lasheen, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, who found that a combination of the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine and morphine was superior to morphine alone in the treatment of cancer pain. "It's rare to see an old drug that's past its patent get used in a randomized, controlled trial to document its efficacy in a whole new indication," Storey said.

Other important research, Storey said, included a small case series presented by Benson Banston, M.D., of Mercy Hospice in Scranton, Pa., on the use of oral transmucosal fentanyl for shortness of breath. "I think that's really exciting because we definitely need ways of relieving shortness of breath in people who are acutely ill from heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," Storey said. "At least in this small series, oral transmucosal fentanyl seemed to be quite safe and effective."

"There were several sessions on communications issues with patients and families regarding advanced illness," added AAHPM immediate past president Ron Schonwetter, M.D., of Life Path Hospice and Palliative Care in Tampa, Fla. "We also had several sessions on ethical issues that patients and families face such as palliative sedation, tube feedings and advance directives," he said.

"A lot of presentations addressed program development in hospice and palliative medicine, educational development and how to develop a fellowship program," Schonwetter said. Several presentations focused on what Schonwetter called "the biggest thing" to affect hospice and palliative medicine: its recent recognition as a subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

On a forward-looking note, Storey said that hospice and palliative care is becoming more diversified. "No longer is our practice limited to hospice patients. We're going to be taking care of people who are on ventilators at home, people getting dialysis at dialysis centers, and homeless veterans in emergency rooms. We're definitely going to be finding more skillful ways to deliver palliative care to more diverse populations."

AAHPM: Race Affects Attitudes Towards Hospice

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Beliefs and attitudes about hospice care vary significantly between older whites and blacks, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in Tampa, Fla.

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AAHPM: Opioid Guideline for Non-Cancer Pain to Be Released

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A new evidence-based guideline will clarify the use of chronic opioid therapy in non-cancer pain, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in Tampa, Fla.

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AAHPM: Patient-Centered Approach Fosters Cooperation

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A patient-centered approach to advance care planning leads to enhanced agreement between patients and surrogates in situations involving end-stage heart and kidney failure, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in Tampa, Fla.

More Information on Annual Meeting

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