KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Study: Hospice Use On The Rise, But After Late-Stage Aggressive Care

A study released Tuesday found that, although the number of elderly people who died in a hospice setting is increasing, it usually came late in the process and after highly aggressive care near the end of life.

USA Today: Hospice Care Used More, But Often Too Late
Twice as many elderly people died in hospice care as in a hospital or nursing home compared with a decade ago, but hospice is often treated as a last resort — and used too late to benefit patients and their families, says a study released Tuesday. The researchers examined Medicare records for 840,000 people 66 or older who died in 2000, 2005 and 2009 (Lloyd, 2/5).

Politico: Study: Boost In Hospice Visits By Way Of The ICU
At first blush it looks like great news: More Americans are choosing to die with hospice instead of spending their final days tethered to machines in a high-tech modern hospital. But a deeper look at the data finds a countervailing trend. Yes, more people are getting hospice care — but they are getting it for only a few days and often, only after highly aggressive care near the end of life, including multiple hospitalizations and stays in intensive care units (Kenen, 2/6).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Aggressive Care Still The Norm For Dying Seniors
Although federal data show that fewer Medicare beneficiaries are dying in hospitals, new research suggests that doesn't mean they're getting less aggressive care in their final days (Tran, 2/5).

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