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Study: More Choosing to Die at Home Than in a Hospital

Posted on Monday, December 16, 2019 1:31 PM

According to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, for the first time in nearly a century, more people are choosing to die in their own homes versus a hospital. 

Natural deaths in hospitals fell to 29.8 percent from almost 40 percent, while deaths at home increased from 23.8 percent to 30.7 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics database for natural deaths in the United States from 2003 through 2017.

Natural deaths in nursing facilities fell from 23.6 percent to 20.8 percent, while deaths in hospices increased from 0.2 percent to 8.3 percent from 2003 to 2017.

“The study’s findings indicate a symbolic and very real victory in that we believe they translate to more individuals having their desire to die in a familiar environment, among family and friends, fulfilled,” said Theresa Forster, NAHC’s Vice President for Hospice Policy, in response to the research. “At the same time, we believe that even greater inroads can be made in this area, particularly through increased use of advance care planning and palliative care prior to hospice eligibility.”

Describing themselves in a separate article as “advocates for hospice,” the authors write that given “the rising number of people dying at home, ensuring the availability of services to support them and their caregivers is a matter of urgency.”

Calling for an “upgrade for hospice,” the authors write that hospice “should be redesigned with quality of care as its priority, not the cost of care. Eligibility criteria for hospice should be based on a patient’s needs, not inaccurate estimations of prognosis or the treatments she or he is willing to forgo.”

“Hospice allows many people to experience what some refer to as a ‘good death’ in their homes” write the researchers. “The goal of our health system should be to ensure that all Americans have the ability to choose such an opportunity.”

Source: NAHC Report

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