Hospice UK responds to new research highlighting frequent inaccurate prognoses for terminally ill people

Sep 14, 2016

Today new research published by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at University College London shows that doctors are inaccurately predicting how long terminally people have to live.

Commenting in response, Dr Ros Taylor MBE, Clinical Director at Hospice UK, said:

“Predicting how long someone who is terminally ill has to live, and when they will die, can be challenging for even the most experienced doctors. More treatments mean that prognosis is becoming even more uncertain. However, the huge variation in predictions highlighted by this research is astounding, particularly in the final days.

“Tackling this is not only about refining doctors’ prognostic skills, it also hinges on good, timely communication between doctors and terminally ill people and their families.

“Doctors need more confidence to discuss prognosis with patients and learn how to talk about uncertainty, with examples of best and worst case scenarios. This will help people to understand the likely possibilities and focus on their goals and what matters to them.”

Notes to editor

  • Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care and the only membership body for organisations providing hospice care. We support and champion the work of more than 200 of these organisations across the UK.
  • Hospices, and other organisations which provide hospice care, offer vital care for people with terminal or life-limiting conditions and also support their families and carers.
  • For further information about hospice care follow us on Twitter @hospiceukPA.
  • Get all the latest news from the hospice and palliative care sector, as well as patient stories, on ehospice UK at: www.ehospice.com/uk This service is managed by Hospice UK. You can also follow ehospice news on Twitter at @ehospicenews.

Media enquiries

Please contact Suzanne Stevenson on 020 7520 8296 or by email at s.stevenson@hospiceuk.org For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940 318.

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