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Doctor’s Diary: Snippets from the Frontline

| Community | January 17, 2019

Hospice care not reflected in healthcare statistics

By Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Some healthcare agencies and hospitals are shuffling elder seniors into hospice at a rapid rate because it is profitable. Statistics revealing this are hidden, and those exploiting these patients are aware of this loophole.  Investigation is a challenge.

When a patient passes away, a death certificate is completed by a doctor verifying cause, as well as other vital data. It is very specific and may be used for insurance and U.S. statistical information (like Life Expectancy).

But it does not designate whether the ill patient was on hospice.

Many agencies are legitimate, but not having this data allows some to take advantage shifting patients into end-of-life care.

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There are ways to discover these statistics, like checking with Medicare (CMS) or the public health department.

Much more difficult is breaching the legal barrier around hospitals like:
-how many in-patients are placed on hospice;
-transfers out of the ICU or ER with new end-of-life designation;
-the decreasing hospital “age of death” and increasing mortality compared to previous years;
-the increasing number of Palliative Care consults.

Knowing trending statistics might reveal agencies and hospitals who are solely looking after their bottom line instead of patients.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

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