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For two decades, the Dartmouth Atlas Project has used Medicare data to provide information and analysis about national, regional, and local markets, as well as hospitals and affiliated physicians, with the intention of helping people understand the health care system.
A newly published report from the group focuses on the increased use of intensive care units (ICUs) for Medicare patients with advanced cancer during the last month of their life. The researchers looked at the last six months of claims for 212,322 Medicare patients who died in 2010. Here’s what they found:
The report finds that although the use of hospice care for Medicare patients with advanced cancer is increasing, many of these patients do not receive/utilize hospice care until they are on their deathbed.
Some of the hospice numbers that came out of the study include:
“Our research continues to find that patients with advanced cancer are often receiving aggressive care until their final days, when we know that most patients would prefer care directed toward a better quality of life through hospice and palliative services. The increase in patients admitted to hospice care only days before death suggests that hospice services are often provided too late to provide much benefit.” said David C. Goodman, MD, MS, co-principal investigator for the Dartmouth Atlas Project. “Fuller discussions with patients who have advanced cancer on their prognosis and options for care can lead to a better quality of life than many receive today.”