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In the End, Who's Best?

Scott LaFee on

Researchers ranked 81 countries on how well their health systems provide for the physical and mental well-being of patients at the end of life. Only six countries earned a grade of A while 36 countries scored Ds and Fs.

"Society should also be judged on how well people die," said study author Eric Finkelstein at Duke Global Health Institute. "Many individuals in both the developed and developing world die very badly -- not at their place of choice, without dignity, or compassion, with a limited understanding about their illness, after spending down much of their savings, and often with regret about their course of treatment. These experiences are very common, yet avoidable."

To compile the rankings, researchers surveyed more than 1,200 caregivers from several countries to identify what is most important to patients at the end of life, then asked 181 palliative care experts around the world to grade their countries' health systems on 13 weighted factors that people most often listed, including proper management of pain and comfort, having a clean and safe space, being treated kindly, and treatments that address quality of life, rather than merely extending life.

The United Kingdom garnered the highest ranking in the study, followed by Ireland, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea and Costa Rica, all earning A grades. Singapore received a B, ranking 23rd among the countries surveyed, while the United States earned a C, ranking 43rd.

Body of Knowledge

It's impossible to pull or strain a muscle in your fingers because you have no muscles in your fingers. Instead, all digital movement is due to interplay between tendons, ligaments and bones, with a lot of help from muscles at the bases of your digits, in your palms and forearms.

 

Get Me That, Stat!

Life expectancy at birth in the United States was seven years longer for white males than for Black males in 1980. The gap has closed to four years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Stories for the Waiting Room

Over an average lifetime, most people spend one year sitting on the toilet. We wee enough in a month to fill a bath. And we fart enough in a day, on average, to fill a party balloon -- though frankly, it wouldn't be much of a party.

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