Competency in end-of-life care: last hours of life

J Palliat Med. 2003 Aug;6(4):605-13. doi: 10.1089/109662103768253713.


Clinical competence, willingness to educate, and calm and empathic reassurance are critical to helping patients and families in the last hours of living. This review adapted from the Education for Physicians on End-of-Life Care (EPEC) Curriculum describes the predictable course that occurs as well as approaches to management. Management principles are the same at home or in a health care institution. However, death in an institution requires accommodations to assure privacy, cultural observances, and communication that may not be customary. In anticipation of the event, it helps to inform the family and other professionals about what to do and what to expect. Care does not end until the family has been supported with their grief reactions and those with complicated grief helped to get care. Care at the end of life is a core competency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Death*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Family*
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Physician's Role*
  • Terminal Care / methods*