Are patients being discharged from hospice care to save money?

Credit: 2014, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

About 1 in 5 Medicare patients is discharged from hospice care alive, whether due to patients' informed choice, a change in their condition, or inappropriate actions by the hospice to save on hospitalization costs related to terminal illness. How live discharge rates differ between hospice programs and geographic regions, and when those rates should raise red flags are among the issues explored in the article "A National Study of Live Discharges from Hospice".

Joan M. Teno, MD, Pedro Gozalo, PhD, and Vincent Mor, PhD, Brown University School of Public Health (Providence, RI), and Michael Plotzke, PhD, Abt Associates (Cambridge, MA), examined all of the Medicare hospice discharges in the U.S. between January 1 to December 31, 2010. For the patients discharged alive, they gathered data on survival for up to 6 months, subsequent hospitalizations, and Medicare payments during the 30 days after live hospice discharge. The authors provide details on the substantial variation they found in the rates of live discharges across states and between individual hospices, in particular comparing not-for-profit to for-profit hospice programs and more mature programs versus those that had been in operation for 5 years or less.

"The phenomenon of hospice patients 'graduating' because they get better with is well known. But, all patients discharged days to weeks before death is very strange," says Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Palliative Medicine and Vice President, Medical Affairs, Hospice and Palliative Medicine for OhioHealth (Columbus, OH).

More information: The article is available free on the Journal of Palliative Medicine website until September 13, 2014.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Choosing hospice care isn't always easy

Jul 07, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospice care is an option for people who have terminal illnesses, but choosing the right hospice isn't always easy, experts say.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments