In Search of a Good Death: Living Well with Serious Illness


Presented by Steve Pantilat, MD, MHM, FAAHPM

Learning objectives:

  • Describe three cultural myths that are barriers to good care for people with serious illness and how to overcome them

  • Describe communication techniques to promote quality care for people with serious illness

  • Describe how a population health approach can ensure access to quality palliative care for people with serious illness

Serious illness is one of life’s greatest challenges. Unfortunately, healthcare too often adds to the stress of serious illness rather than easing it. Too many people receive care they do not want from which they cannot benefit and fail to receive care they do want from which they would benefit. By understanding the myths we have in our society about serious illness and learning the truth, we can live well and long with serious illness and adapt the healthcare system to address the needs of people with serious illness to provide high quality care.

Steven Pantilat, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, the Kates-Burnard and Hellman Distinguished Professor in Palliative Care, and the founding Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Program that received a Circle of Life Award in recognition of excellence and innovation from the American Hospital Association in 2007. Dr. Pantilat is a palliative care physician and a hospitalist, and is an internationally recognized expert in both hospital medicine and Palliative Care. He is a leading voice for changing the healthcare system and creating innovative programs to improve care for people living with serious illness.

He has distilled his 27 years of experience into his new book for the public about how to live well with serious illness titled, “Life After the Diagnosis: Expert Advice on Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and their Caregivers” that was published by DaCapo Lifelong Books in 2017. He has also published over 90 peer-reviewed scientific papers, authored two dozen book chapters, and co-edited with colleagues at UCSF a textbook on palliative care titled, “Care at the Close of Life” and in 2015 the textbook, “Hospital Based Palliative Medicine.” 

Dr. Pantilat is the Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center that has trained teams from over 200 hospitals across the country on how to establish Palliative Care Services and he consults with hospitals and health systems nationally to help them establish, implement and grow palliative care programs. He is also the Director of the Palliative Care Quality Network, a national collaboration of over 85 Palliative Care teams focused on improving the quality of care for seriously ill people. Dr. Pantilat is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and in Internal Medicine with Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine. Dr. Pantilat was elected a Master of Hospital Medicine by the Society of Hospital Medicine in 2014 in recognition of his many contributions to the field and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2007 he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar studying palliative care at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of Sydney, and Curtin University in Sydney, Australia. He served as President of the Society of Hospital Medicine in 2005-6, and is a past member of the Board of Directors, and the former Chair of the Ethics committee for the Society of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Pantilat serves on the UCSF Medical Center Ethics Committee. 

In 2011 Dr. Pantilat received a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of his work to improve the lives of Californians and in 2014 Dr. Pantilat received the Ritz E. Heerman Award from the California Hospital Association in recognition of his work to improve the quality of palliative care. Dr. Pantilat also serves as Chair of the Advisory Board for the Cambia Foundation’s Sojourn Scholars Leadership Award program and on the Steering committee of the Palliative Care Research Collaborative. Dr. Pantilat was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCSF and is a Faculty Scholar of the Project on Death in America. In 2015 he was named a Best Doctor in Palliative Care by San Francisco Magazine and Marin Magazine and a Top Doctor for Cancer by Newsweek magazine. He has received five teaching awards from the medical students at UCSF for outstanding lectures and lecture series. 

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Supportive Care Coalition