Caring for patients at the end of life presents a series of quality-of-care problems to the health care system. In the past, concern has focused on overaggressive treatment of dying patients. Given rapid changes in the financing and delivery of care, it is time to focus on a range of quality problems and address ways to improve care and achieve outcomes desired by patients and their families. We provide a framework for conceptualizing such a task. This article addresses the purposes of measurement, definition of the patient population, timing of measurement, use of surrogates in measurement, scope of services to be evaluated, and the choice of measures. It emphasizes the necessary links between quality measurement and quality improvement.
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