Hospice eligibility in patients who died in a tertiary care center.

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Hospice eligibility in patients who died in a tertiary care center.

J Hosp Med. 2012 Mar;7(3):218-23

Authors: Freund K, Weckmann MT, Casarett DJ, Swanson K, Brooks MK, Broderick A


BACKGROUND: Hospice is a service that patients, families, and physicians find beneficial, yet a majority of patients die without receiving hospice care. Little is known about how many hospitalized patients are hospice eligible at the time of hospitalization.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review was used to examine all adult deaths (n = 688) at a tertiary care center during 2009. Charts were selected for full review if the death was nontraumatic and the patient had a hospital admission within 12 months of the terminal admission. The charts were examined for hospice eligibility based on medical criteria, evidence of a hospice discussion, and hospice enrollment.

RESULTS: Two hundred nine patients had an admission in the year preceding the terminal admission and a nontraumatic death. Sixty percent were hospice eligible during the penultimate admission. Hospice discussions were documented in 14% of the hospice-eligible patients. Patients who were hospice eligible had more subspecialty consults on the penultimate admission compared to those not hospice eligible (P = 0.016), as well as more overall hospitalizations in the 12 months preceding their terminal admission (P = 0.0003), and fewer days between their penultimate admission and death (P = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: The majority of terminally ill inpatients did not have a documented discussion of hospice with their care provider. Educating physicians to recognize the stepwise decline of most illnesses and hospice admission criteria will facilitate a more informed decision-making process for patients and their families. A consistent commitment to offer hospice earlier than the terminal admission would increase access to community or home-based care, potentially increasing quality of life.

PMID: 22086609 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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