March 10, 2009

Hospice patients feel abandoned

A U.S. oncologist says terminally ill patients often feel abandoned by their doctors.

The study, published Tuesday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests doctors need to be aware of the worries patients have about a loss of continuity in patient-physician communication. Some families also say they feel abandoned after the patient's death because of a lack of closure with the physician.

Doctors often don't realize how important this issue is for patients and their families, said Dr. Anthony Back of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, who was the lead author. "Something as simple as a phone call can go a long way toward allaying abandonment concerns.'