New data breaks down who uses hospice care

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization just issued a new report on trends in hospice care use in 2011 and 2012.

In 2012, 83.4 percent of hospice patients were 65 years of age or older, and more than half (56.4 percent) were female.

While use of hospice in private residences remained steady at 41.6 percent, hospice use in nursing homes declined slightly, to 17.2 percent in 2012 from 18.3 percent in 2011.

Among all hospice patients, cancer deaths comprised 25 percent of mortalities; In 2012, the top non-cancer primary diagnoses for patients admitted to hospice in 2012 were debility unspecified (14.2 percent), dementia (12.8 percent), heart disease (11.2 percent), and lung disease (8.2 percent).

The full report is available for download as a pdf.

In a press release announcing the report, NHPCO officials expressed concern over short-term hospice stays of seven days or less. According to the organization, “In 2012, 35.5 percent died or were discharged within seven days of admission, a statistic consistent with the previous year.”

Get more data, resources and story ideas for covering aging on AHCJ’s core topic site on aging.

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