Care for Dying Medicare Patients at Elite Cancer Centers Differs Little from Community Hospitals

This is a good news/bad news story. On the good news side, community hospitals do about as good a job as the elite cancer centres at meeting quality standards for treating dying cancer patients. Expect that the elite hospitals have advantages in terms of settings, surroundings and other peripheral aspects, that likely make a difference, but not, it would appear, in core medical treatment.

The bad news is that all are doing a bad job in making life as easy as possible for someone in this situation. Quote:

… specific type of hospital, whether it was a designated cancer center, an academic medical center or community-based hospital, was found to excel at providing care that is consistent with standards endorsed by the National Quality Forum, such as having lower rates each of use of the intensive care unit in the last month of life, use of chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life, deaths occurring in the hospital, and the use of hospice care for fewer than three days.

Following these guidelines matters because it helps determine whether patients with short life expectancies receive relatively high levels of comfort-focused, palliative services and are less likely to die in a hospital or in a hospital’s intensive care unit, or whether they are more likely to spend their last days in the hospital, often in intensive care units receiving uncomfortable treatments—such as using a breathing tube connected to a ventilator—that are unlikely to prolong or enhance the quality of life.

Care for Dying Medicare Patients at Elite Cancer Centres Differs Little from Community Hospitals


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