LET­TERS: Hospice care is valu­able, de­serves more at­ten­tion

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS -

Your re­cent cov­er­age of the Jour­nal of Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion study on hospice care (“Hospice use in­creases but ag­gres­sive care still com­mon,” Feb. 5, Mod­ern­Health­care.com) gives this im­por­tant sub­ject the at­ten­tion it de­serves and high­lights some alarming trends. The first is ac­cess. The study ref­er­ences a “sharp” in­crease in hospice uti­liza­tion, still less than half of pa­tients stud­ied were en­rolled in hospice when they died. This is con­sis­tent with other na­tional stud­ies. End-of-life care also can­not be ig­nored in the na­tional ef­fort to con­tain health­care costs. Medi­care pays tens of bil­lions an­nu­ally for physi­cian vis­its and hospi­tal bills dur­ing the last two months of pa­tients’ lives, of­ten with­out im­prov­ing qual­ity of life. Hospice keeps pa­tients com­fort­able at home in­stead of in and out of hospi­tal emer­gency rooms and in­ten­sive-care units. The value: greater ef­fi­ciency in our health­care sys­tem and, most im­por­tantly, bet­ter qual­ity of life for pa­tients in de­clin­ing health.

Co­rina Tracy Se­nior vice pres­i­dent of na­tional op­er­a­tions,

Hospice Com­pas­sus, Brent­wood, Tenn.

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