Why less cancer patients are dying in US hospitals than others

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According to a new international study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), fewer cancer patients are dying in United States hospitals...

According to a new international study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), fewer cancer patients are dying in United States hospitals than other developed countries.

In 2010, 22.2 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. died in the hospital compared to 70 percent in the 1980s. It is the lowest rate of the countries in the study, which includes Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

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The international Consortium for End-of-Life Research systematically examined patterns of care, healthcare utilization and expenditures in senior patients older than 65 who died from cancer in hospitals in 2010.

“The essential take-away from the study is that there is great variability across the nations in end-of-life practices, but we know now that we can reduce the intensity of care at the end of life in the U.S. and in other nations, and we know we need to move end-of-life care out of hospitals,” said University of Pennsylvania MD Justin Bekelman.

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“We know that end-of-life care is expensive, intensive and not consistent with the wishes of our patients, and we also know that too many patients are still dying in the hospital in the U.S., but what we didn’t know is how the U.S. compares with other countries.”

In addition, the study also reveals American patients who do indeed pass away while in the hospital spend fewer days there during the final six months of their lives.

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However, more than twice as many U.S. patients who pass away from cancer are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and receive more chemotherapy in the final six months of their lives.

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