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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Many Cancer Patients Overtreated In Final Days

Cancer care for injured workers' is extremely costly. The final year of life equates to a large proportion of medical costs. Ehical and moral factors enter into the balance for spending deicision though. Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from

While most older people say they don't want aggressive care at the end of life, many get it anyway.

Care in the last month of life for Medicare patients with advanced cancer typically is even more aggressive in the Philadelphia area than in the nation as a whole, concludes a report from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which studies regional differences in care. It released a report last week that showed the percentage of cancer patients who died in hospitals in 2010, or were hospitalized or in an intensive care unit in their last month.

Oddly, participation in hospice, which should relieve symptoms rather than prolong life, is above average in the Philadelphia area. Throughout the nation, though, the average patient waits until the last week or two to join hospice.
The Dartmouth researchers believe the regional variations reflect differing physician practices and available resources rather than patient preferences or quality.
The conclusion is that many patients here are being overtreated and are not communicating well with doctors, said David Goodman, coprincipal investigator of the Dartmouth Atlas.
"I think most people would agree that most health-care systems have got some real work to do," he said. "Patients have no idea what is the style of care in the place that they're receiving care, and it's not easily identifiable."

He said doctors find it hard to pull back as their patients worsen.
The study included hospitals that cared for at least 80 Medicare patients...
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