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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why so many people die in hospitals instead of at home

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It was September 2012 and it was life-long smoker Paula Faber’s third cancer in a decade, but she did not hesitate.
“She was going to fight it every inch of the way,” says her husband Ron Faber.
By August 2013 after much fighting, Paula Faber died at age 72. Ron Faber now regrets the intervening 11 months of chemotherapy, radiation, painkillers and side effects that reduced his wife to 67 pounds of frayed nerves. Instead, the pain could have been managed so she could focus on the quality of life.
“I would have rather have had a really okay four-and-a half months than this endless set of treatments,” the stage actor said.
As they confronted Paula’s terminal diagnosis, the decision the Fabers made is among the most difficult anyone can make. But it turns out that in the New York metropolitan region, patients opt for aggressive treatment much more often than other Americans.
“New York City continues to lag in serious ways with regards to providing patients with the environment that they want at the end of life,” says Dr. David Goodman, who studies end-of-life care at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine.
The reasons they do this are many, but most experts agree that it has less to do with the unique characteristics and desires of people in New York and New Jersey than the health care system and culture that has evolved here.
The result: More people dying in the hospital, often in...
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