Dying peacefully at home is anyone’s ultimate death wish, but so many end up needlessly in hospitals in a sterile and cold environment. Sometimes this is necessary but many times it can avoided with better planning.
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The article, Most people want to die at home, but many land in hospitals getting unwanted care, by Andrew MacPherson and Ravi B. Parikh, states
“Where do you want to die? When asked, the vast majority of Americans answer with two words: “At home.”
Despite living in a country that delivers some of the best health care in the world, we often settle for end-of-life care that is inconsistent with our wishes and administered in settings that are unfamiliar, even dangerous. In California, for example, 70 percent of individuals surveyed said they wish to die at home, yet 68 percent do not.
Instead, many of us die in hospitals, subject to overmedication and infection, often after receiving treatment that we do not want. Doctors know this, which may explain why 72 percent of them die at home.
Using data from the Dartmouth Atlas — a source of information and analytics that organizes Medicare data by a variety of indicators linked to medical resource use — we recently ranked geographic areas based on markers of end-of-life care quality, including deaths in the hospital and number of physicians seen in the last year of life. People are accustomed to ranking areas of the country based on availability of high-quality arts, universities, restaurants, parks and recreation and health-care quality overall. But we can also rank areas based on how they treat us at an important moment of life: when it’s coming to an end.
It turns out not all areas are created equal. Critical questions abound. For example, why do 71 percent of those who die in Ogden, Utah, receive hospice care, while only 31 percent do in Manhattan? Why is the rate of deaths in intensive care units in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, almost four times that of Los Angeles? Why do only 12 percent of individuals in Sun City, Ariz., die in a hospital, while 30 percent do in McAllen, Texas?”
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