Conversations About Ethics

Ethical Issues in Palliative Care: Transforming Health Care for an Aging Society

Diane Meier, MD, FACP

The age-old issues of suffering, death, caring, and the limits of medicine have found new expressions that require new answers. Medical research continues to discover and utilize unprecedented technologies that can prevent or delay death, even in the face of chronic and complicated disease. These technologies have fundamentally changed how and where we die, as well as how and where we live. They have also fundamentally changed the healthcare professional's responsibility to his or her patients in these discussions.

A person is not only a disease to be managed - a decision to be made. Palliative care may hold some answers. In dealing with the individual as a whole, palliative care enables providers to maximize the quality of life for individuals living with disease and their families and caregivers. Palliative care focuses on the whole person, including the disease, the family and the issues that are most important to them while they are living with chronic illness. The conversation includes end of life, but is not exclusive to end of life. Consider for a moment that palliative care is a kind of applied ethics, promoting patient autonomy, welfare and community stewardship.

This series in Conversations About Ethics consists of an evening keynote and a lunchtime lecture with palliative care expert Diane Meier. Join us for both!

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to describe effective Palliative Care models in home, telemedicine, and outpatient settings
  • Participants will understand emerging quality standards and cost outcomes of various Palliative Care models
  • Participants will analyze the ethical implications of Palliative Care models and the ways in which they impact patient autonomy, patient welfare, and community stewardship



About our Speaker

DianeMeier_Photo2.jpgDiane E. Meier, M.D., FACP, is Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization devoted to increasing the number and quality of palliative care programs in the United States. Under her leadership the number of palliative care programs in U.S. hospitals has more than tripled in the last 10 years. She is also Vice-Chair for Public Policy and Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine; Catherine Gaisman Professor of Medical Ethics; and was the founder and Director of the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute from 1997-2011, all at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Dr. Meier is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2008 MacArthur Fellowship.. She was named one of 20 People Who Make Healthcare Better in the U.S. by HealthLeaders Media 2010 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Oberlin College in 2010. In 2012, she was awarded American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor for Cancer Control in recognition of her pioneering leadership of the effort to bring non-hospice palliative care into mainstream medicine. Other honors include the Open Society Institute Faculty Scholar’s Award of the Project on Death in America, the Founders Award of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization 2007, AARP’s 50th Anniversary Social Impact Award 2008, Castle Connelly’s Physician of the Year Award 2009 and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award 2009. Dr. Meier served as one of Columbia University’s Health and Aging Policy Fellows in Washington, DC during the 2009-2010 academic year, working both on the Senate’s HELP Committee and the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Meier has published more than 200 original peer review papers, and several books. Her most recent book, Meeting the Needs of Older Adults with Serious Illness: Challenges and Opportunities in the Age of Health Care Reform, was published by Humana in 2014. She edited the first textbook on geriatric palliative care, as well as four editions of Geriatric Medicine.  Diane E. Meier received her BA from Oberlin College and her MD from Northwestern University Medical School. She completed her residency and fellowship training at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. She has been on the faculty of the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai since 1983. She lives in New York City.


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Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information)

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources)

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials)

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
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Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.