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Doctor’s Diary (Snippets from the Frontline): Dissecting Life Expectancy Statistics

| Community | January 3, 2020

By Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Life Expectancy for Americans is decreasing. This is a trend.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) publishes data annually along with interpretation blurbs pointing blame at social problems. Most recently, the opioid crisis and suicide led the way.

Hidden and overlooked in the pile of numbers is significant data contributing to another CDC Life Expectancy decrease: Those 85 years and over are dying at a higher rate than in the past.

Why?

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A contributing factor may be manipulation of hospice by hospitals, insurance companies, and HMOs. Almost every older adult admitted is approached and pressured by doctors, nurses, case managers, social workers, and discharge planners to utilize palliative or comfort care (which are code words for hospice). This coercion is sometimes financially self-serving.

Once a patient or family member is convinced, the patient is shuffled out of the hospital typically to a nursing home, where treatment is supportive but not curative. This saves money augmenting burgeoning administrator salaries.

Patient death certificates do not reveal they were under hospice care, so this piece of information is not available to the CDC.

Carefully dissecting Life Expectancy statistics might uncover a covert threat to older adults.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

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