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C. Better End Of Life Care

Narrator: This is Science Today. A "good death" may seem like a paradox, but according to Dr. Steve Pantilat, a hospitalist at the University of California, San Francisco, it's something everyone facing the end of life should strive for with the help of their doctors, family and friends.

Pantilat: When we ask people, what's important to you at the end of life? What families and patients tell us is that they don't want to be in pain and they don't want to suffer. They want to talk about illness and death with their doctors and nurses. And they want support. They want people to be there, to help them through that time of life.

Narrator: In a recent study on pain control, Pantilat found that a doctor just acknowledging the patient is in pain greatly influences how well it's controlled.

Pantilat: Doctors who said 'I want to get this patient out of pain' were better. And finally, doctors who considered themselves liberal with pain medications - that they were willing to give them out - those doctors did a better job of controlling pain as well. It may not involve curing a disease, but there's always something to do to relieve someone's symptoms.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.