BACKGROUND: French demographic projection expects an increasing number of older, dependent patients in the next few years. A large proportion of this population lives in nursing homes and their transfer to hospitals at the end of life is an ongoing issue.
OBJECTIVE: This study explored the factors influencing the transfer of patients living in nursing homes to hospital at the end of life.
DESIGN: We used a mixed-methods questionnaire developed by an expert group and assessing different characteristics of the nursing homes.
PARTICIPANTS: All the nursing homes in the Rhône-Alpes area (n=680) were surveyed.
RESULTS: We obtained 466 (68%) answers. We found that a palliative care programme was present in 336 (72%) nursing homes. The majority had a coordinating physician 428 (82%) and a mean number of 6 nurses for 83 beds, with 83 (18%) having a night shift nurse. There was a mean number of 19 deaths per nursing home during the recorded year. The main cause of death was dementia (41%), cancer-related death (13%). Death occurred mostly in the nursing home (14 74%). Night shift nurse attendance was significantly associated with the place of death: 27 deaths occurred in nursing homes with a night shift nurse versus 12 in those without one (p<0001).
CONCLUSIONS: The location of the death of frail elderly patients is a major health issue that needs to be addressed. Our results suggests that the presence of a night shift nurse decreases the number of emergency transfers and deaths in the hospital.
Background: Home hospice is designed to provide comfort to patients at the end of their life and hospital readmission is incongruent with this goal.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence of and characteristics associated with hospital readmissions from home hospice over a two-year period.
Design/Subjects: This was a retrospective cohort study of 705 inpatients discharged from a quaternary academic medical center to home hospice from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017.
Measures: The primary outcome was incidence of hospital readmission after discharge to home hospice. Multivariate regression with stepwise forward selection was used to identify characteristics associated with readmission.
esults: The incidence of readmission was found to be 10.50% (n = 74), and the median days from discharge to readmission were 32.50 days (interquartile range = 14.00, 75.00). Reasons for readmission were: unanticipated new medical issue (n = 33, 44.59%), uncontrolled symptoms (n = 25, 33.78%), misunderstanding of hospice status (n = 12, 16.22%), and caregiver distress (n = 4, 5.41%). The following characteristics were associated with readmission: female versus male (odds ratio [OR] = 1.96; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.16–3.32), non-white versus white (OR = 2.40; 95% CI: 1.36–4.24), and hospice diagnosis of cardiac disease versus all other diagnoses (OR = 4.40; 95% CI: 2.06–9.37).
Conclusions: Compared with prior studies, our findings showed a lower incidence of readmission, 10.50%, from home hospice. In addition, those who are female, non-white, or have a hospice diagnosis of cardiac disease are more likely to be readmitted.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate the incidence and causes of hospitalization in the year preceding death of patients with heart failure (HF).
BACKGROUND: Hospitalizations in HF are common, especially in the last period of the lives of patients with HF, but little is known about hospitalization burden and causes during this phase of the disease.
METHODS: From Danish nationwide registries, we identified patients who died in the period 2001-2016 after having experienced HF for at least 1 year, and examined hospitalizations during the last year of life in age- and sex-stratified analyses.
RESULTS: We included 32,157 patients. Median age at time of death was 81 years; 39% were women. A total of 26,561 (84%) patients were hospitalized at least once during the last year of life. The patients experienced a median of 2 (1 to 3) hospitalizations and spent 14 (3 to 31) days in the hospital. Of all hospitalizations (n = 80,362), 9,644 (12%) were due to HF, 14,738 (18%) due to other cardiovascular (CV) causes, and 51,696 (64%) due to non-CV causes (p < 0.001). The frequency of hospitalizations increased toward death, but the domination of non-CV causes remained consistent throughout the year, regardless of age and sex. If we included diagnoses covering renal insufficiency in the definition of HF hospitalizations, non-CV hospitalizations remained dominant (58%).
CONCLUSIONS: During the last year alive, patients with HF were more often hospitalized due to non-CV causes rather than HF. These findings warrant more focus on a multidisciplinary approach toward end-of-life care in patients with HF.
OBJECTIVES: Family members of children admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) suffer from severe stress, which sometimes results in long-term psychological problems. We aimed to identify associations between demographic and psychosocial variables at early stages of a child's admission to the ICU and depression and anxiety in family members at approximately 3 months after admission. We also explored predictive models for depression and anxiety at 3 months after admission.
METHODS: This study is a secondary analysis of data from a previous clinical trial of palliative care for family members in ICUs, in which 380 family members of 220 children reported demographic and psychosocial status at approximately 1 week after ICU admission (baseline), at discharge from the ICUs, and at 3 months after the child's admission to the ICU. Clinical data were extracted from the children's medical records. We used linear regression models and stepwise linear regression for the analyses.
RESULTS: After controlling for significant confounders of gender (female) and child mortality, worse psychological status at baseline, represented by reported depression, anxiety, and acute stress symptoms, was associated with more severe depression and anxiety at 3 months. Also, a better family relationship at baseline was associated with lower depression and anxiety at 3 months.
CONCLUSION: We suggest a need to screen family members of children admitted to the ICU with validated scales and intervening with those at high risk of depression and anxiety.
Around 70% of people would prefer to die at home, yet around 50% die in hospital, according to Dying Matters. In collaboration with a local hospice, a literature review was undertaken to address the question: 'what factors precipitate admission to hospital in the last few days of a person's life for those who had expressed a preference to die at home?' Four electronic databases were searched, with a date range of 2008 to 2018. After 80 articles were screened, 13 were included in the review. The findings identified a number of barriers experienced by people with non-cancer conditions nearing the end of life and their family carers, which inhibit the transition to end-of-life care. The findings suggest that hospice support for non-cancer patients with a deteriorating health trajectory needs to precede patient and family recognition that end-of-life care is needed.
Objective To examine the association of the use of hospice care on patient experience and outcomes of care. Promoting high-value, safe and effective care is an international healthcare imperative. However, the extent to which hospice care may improve the value of care is not well characterised.
Methods A secondary analysis of variations in care was conducted using the Dartmouth Atlas Report, matched to the American Hospital Association Annual Survey Database to abstract organisational characteristics for 236 US hospitals to examine the relationship between hospice usage and a number of variables that represent care value, including hospital care intensity index, hospital deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) deaths, patient satisfaction and a number of patient quality indicators. Structural equation modelling was used to demonstrate the effect of hospice use on patient experience, clinical and efficiency outcomes.
Results Hospice admissions in the last 6 months of life were correlated with a number of variables, including increases in patient satisfaction ratings (r=0.448, p=0.01) and better pain control (r=0.491, p=0.01), and reductions in hospital days (r=-0.517, p=0.01), fewer hospital deaths (r=-0.842, p=0.01) and fewer deaths occurring with an ICU admission during hospitalisation (r=-0.358, p=0.01). The structural equation model identified that use of hospice care was inversely related to hospital mortality (-0.885) and ICU mortality (-0.457).
Conclusions The results of this investigation demonstrate that greater use of hospice care during the last 6 months of life is associated with improved patient experience, including satisfaction and pain control, as well as clinical outcomes of care, including decreased ICU and hospital mortality..
Background: In 2004, Aetna, a national health insurer, launched the Aetna Compassionate Care Program (ACCP) targeting members diagnosed with an advanced illness with a view to increase access to palliative care and hospice services.
Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of ACCP on health care utilization and hospice enrollment among enrolled members.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study comparing participants in ACCP to a matched control group using a propensity score method. The study group consisted of Aetna Medicare Advantage members who participated in the ACCP between January 2014 and June 2015. Potential control group members were those who were not identified by the predictive model nor were referred to the ACCP program through other means. The primary outcomes of interest were hospice use measured as percent of members electing hospice and median number of days in hospice; health care utilization and medical costs measured as rates and medical costs associated with acute inpatient admissions, emergency room, primary care, and specialty visits in the 30 and 90 days before death.
Results: Participants in the ACCP program were 36% more likely to enroll in hospice (79% vs. 58%, p < 0.0001) and had reduced acute inpatient medical costs ($4169 vs. $5863, p < 0.0001) driven primarily by fewer inpatient admissions (860 vs. 1017, p < 0.0001) in the last 90 days of life.
Conclusions: Advanced illness case management programs such as ACCP can improve access to hospice and improve patient outcomes while reducing unnecessary admissions in the last 90 days of life.
PURPOSE: It is imperative to provide quality end-of-life (EOL) care for patients with cancer. Although rates of hospice use within the Veterans Health Administration have improved, antineoplastic administration and intensive care unit (ICU) admission at the EOL, indicators of aggressive care, have not clearly declined over recent years.
METHODS: We identified 32,665 veterans diagnosed with stage IV lung, colorectal, or pancreatic cancer who died between 2009 and 2016 using a novel EOL Dashboard Tool created from Veterans Administration Cancer Registry data. This EOL tool reports the incidence of antineoplastic drug use in the last 14 days of life, ICU admission in the last 30 days of life, and hospice admission or consult. Change from 2009 to 2016 was assessed using a repeated measures one-way analysis of variance with post hoc test for linear trend of time for individual cancers and two-way analysis of variance for all cancers combined.
RESULTS: Antineoplastic use in the last 14 days of life declined from 6.8% in 2009 to 4.4% in 2016 (P = .03). ICU admission in the last 30 days did not change significantly, from 13.3% in 2009 to 14.7% in 2016. The exception was patients with stage IV lung cancer, in whom ICU admissions increased from 12.9% to 16.2% (P = .01). Patients using hospice services increased from 32.4% to 52.6% (P < .01).
CONCLUSION: Although antineoplastic administration at the EOL is declining for veterans with stage IV cancer, ICU admissions are unchanged and becoming more common in stage IV lung cancer despite increasing hospice use.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between the number of chronic conditions and hospital utilization at the end of life.
BACKGROUND: An understanding of the association of multimorbidity with health care utilization at the end of life may inform interventions to improve quality of care for these patients.
METHODS: A mortality follow-back analysis using Washington State death records and electronic health records. Subject included patients in the UW Medicine system who had at least one chronic condition and died between 2010 and 2015. Utilization was measured by inpatient admissions, emergency department use, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in the last 30 days of life.
RESULTS: For all utilization types, patients with three or more chronic conditions (n = 5124) had significantly higher utilization (p < 0.001) in the last 30 days of life than those with two (n = 5775) or one condition (n = 11,169). Comparing 3 versus 2 versus 1 conditions, the following percentages of patients had each type of utilization: inpatient admissions (37% vs. 28% vs. 19%), ED admissions (5% vs. 4% vs. 2%), and ICU care (28% vs. 20% vs. 12%).
DISCUSSION: Multimorbidity was associated with greater health care utilization at the end of life among patients representing a range of ages and covered by diverse insurers.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the patterns of end-of-life (EOL) health care for older Mexican-Americans with or without a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Our objective was to investigate the frequency of acute hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and ventilator use during the last 30-days of life for deceased older Mexican-American Medicare Beneficiaries with and without an ADRD diagnosis.
METHODS: We used Medicare claims data linked with survey information from 1,090 participants (mean age of death 85.1 years) of the Hispanic EPESE. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds for hospitalization, ICU use, and ventilator use in the last 30-days of life for decedents with ADRD compared to those without ADRD. Generalized linear models were used to estimate risk ratio for length of hospital stay (LOS).
RESULTS: Within the last 30-days of life, 64.5% of decedents had an acute hospitalization (59.1% ADRD, 68.3% no ADRD), 33.9% had an ICU stay (31.3% ADRD, 35.8% no ADRD), and 17.2% used a ventilator (14.9% ADRD, 18.8% no ADRD). ADRD was associated with significantly lower hospitalizations (OR=0.67, 95% CI=0.50-0.89) and shorter LOS (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.65-0.90).
CONCLUSION: Hospitalization, ICU stay, and ventilator use are common at the end of life for older Mexican-Americans. The lower hospitalization and shorter LOS of decedents with ADRD indicate a modest reduction in acute care use. Future research should investigate the impact of EOL planning on acute-care use and quality of life in terminally ill Mexican-American older adults.
Après 15 ans de recueil et d’enregistrement de données administratives et médicales, la Fédération Wallonne de soins palliatifs dispose de données chiffrées qui lui permettent de poser un regard rétrospectif sur l’activité des unités de soins palliatifs, à travers quelques items-clés, sur 4 années prises comme références. Dans cet article, la discussion portera sur le nombre de patients hospitalisés au sein de ces unités, les pourcentages de pathologies cancéreuses, la durée d’hospitalisation, l’origine des admissions, les pourcentages de réadmissions et les fins de séjour en unités. L’article se clôturera ensuite par quelques conclusions et perspectives pour l’avenir.
Background: Important administrative-based measures of hospital quality, including those used by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, may not adequately account for patient illness and social factors that vary between hospitals and can strongly affect outcomes. Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order on admission (within the first 24 hours) is one such factor that may reflect higher preadmission illness burden as well as patients’ desire for less-intense therapeutic interventions and has been shown to vary widely between hospitals. We sought to evaluate how accounting for early DNR affected hospital quality measures for acute myocardial infarction.
Methods and results: We identified all patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction using the California State Inpatient Database, which captures early DNR use within 24 hours of admission. We generated hospital risk-standardized mortality and readmissions using random-effects logistic regression, before and after including early DNR status, to examine changes in overall model fit and hospital outlier designations. We included 109 521 patients from 289 hospitals and found that 8.5% (9356) patients had early DNR. Early DNR use varied widely, with median (interquartile range) hospital rates of 7.9% (4.1%–14.0%). Including early DNR in models used to assess hospital quality resulted in improvement in the mortality model (C statistics from 0.754 [0.748–0.759] to 0.784 [0.779–0.789]) but not the readmissions model. Of the hospitals designated high outliers for mortality and readmissions by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services model, and therefore destined for a financial penalty, 6/25 (24%) were reclassified as nonoutliers for mortality and 2/14 (14.3%) for readmissions after including DNR status. Agreement in outlier status between the models before and after inclusion of early DNR status was moderate for mortality ( , 0.603 [0.482–0.724]; P<0.001) and high for readmissions ( , 0.888 [0.800–0.977]; P<0.001).
Conclusions: Including early DNR status in risk-adjustment models significantly improved model fit and resulted in substantial reclassification of hospital performance rankings for mortality and moderate reclassification for readmissions. DNR status at hospital admission should be considered when reporting risk-standardized hospital mortality.
BACKGROUND: Critically ill patients may die despite invasive intervention. In this study, we examine trends in the application of two such treatments over a decade, namely, endotracheal ventilation and vasopressors and inotropes administration, as well as the impact of these trends on survival durations in patients who die within a month of ICU admission.
METHODS: We considered observational data available from the MIMIC-III open-access ICU database and collected within a study period between year 2002 up to 2011. If a patient had multiple admissions to the ICU during the 30 days before death, only the first stay was analyzed, leading to a final set of 6,436 unique ICU admissions during the study period. We tested two hypotheses: (i) administration of invasive intervention during the ICU stay immediately preceding end-of-life would decrease over the study time period and (ii) time-to-death from ICU admission would also decrease, due to the decrease in invasive intervention administration. To investigate the latter hypothesis, we performed a subgroups analysis by considering patients with lowest and highest severity. To do so, we stratified the patients based on their SAPS I scores, and we considered patients within the first and the third tertiles of the score. We then assessed differences in trends within these groups between years 2002-05 vs. 2008-11.
RESULTS: Comparing the period 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011, we found a reduction in endotracheal ventilation among patients who died within 30 days of ICU admission (120.8 vs. 68.5 hours for the lowest severity patients, p<0.001; 47.7 vs. 46.0 hours for the highest severity patients, p = 0.004). This is explained in part by an increase in the use of non-invasive ventilation. Comparing the period 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011, we found a reduction in the use of vasopressors and inotropes among patients with the lowest severity who died within 30 days of ICU admission (41.8 vs. 36.2 hours, p<0.001) but not among those with the highest severity. Despite a reduction in the use of invasive interventions, we did not find a reduction in the time to death between 2002-2005 vs. 2008-2011 (7.8 days vs. 8.2 days for the lowest severity patients, p = 0.32; 2.1 days vs. 2.0 days for the highest severity patients, p = 0.74).
CONCLUSION: We found that the reduction in the use of invasive treatments over time in patients with very poor prognosis did not shorten the time-to-death. These findings may be useful for goals of care discussions.
BACKGROUND: Acute decompensated heart failure (HF) is the leading cause for hospital readmission. Large-scale sustainable interventions to reduce readmission rate have not been fully explored or proven effective.
OBJECTIVE: We studied the impact of hospice and palliative care service utilization on 30-day all-cause hospital readmissions for patients with HF.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Data were retrieved from the Department of Veterans Affairs Corporate Data Warehouse. The study included 238 116 HF admissions with primary diagnosis of HF belonging to 130 812 patients. Among these patients, 2592 had hospice and palliative care utilizations and 68 245 patients did not. Rehospitalization was calculated within 30 days of index hospitalization. Propensity scores were used to match hospice and nonhospice patients on demographics, Charlson comorbidity categories, and 30-day survival. In the matched group, logistic regression was used to estimate effects of hospice on readmission, controlling for any covariates that had failed to balance. The average age of the matched patients was 74 years old, 14% were African American, 75% Caucasian, 2% Asian, and 17% female. After propensity matching, the odds ratio for readmission was 1.29. The 95% confidence interval for the odds was 1.13 to 1.48, suggesting that veterans receiving services have a higher chance of readmission.
CONCLUSION: In a large cohort study of older US Veterans, utilization of hospice and palliative care services was associated with a higher 30-day all-cause readmission rate among hospitalized patients with HF. Further prospective studies should be conducted to confirm results and test generalizability outside the Veterans Affairs system of care.
Background: Patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) have a reduced life expectancy and a significant symptom burden. Our aim is to determine if inpatient palliative care (PC) referral for patients with ESLD is associated with decreased hospital readmission rates.
Methods: The 2013 US Nationwide Readmission Database (NRD) was used for the current analysis. The NRD allows for longitudinal analysis of all patient hospital admissions across 22 states. Patients =18 years of age with a diagnosis of ESLD with at least two decompensating events were included in the analysis. PC referral at the index hospitalisation divided the cohort into two groups, which were tracked for 9 months.
Results A total of 14 325 172 hospital admissions from the 2013 NRD were examined. In the first 3 months of 2013, a total of 3647 patients with ESLD were admitted with 206 (5.6%) receiving PC referral during the index admission. After the index hospitalisation, patients referred to PC were more likely to be discharged to skilled nursing facilities (45.5% vs 14.7%; p<0.01) or hospice/home care (32.9% vs 15.3%; p<0.01). After propensity score matching, those patients referred to PC demonstrated a significantly lower rate of 1-year hospital readmission (11.0% vs 32.1%; p<0.01).
Conclusion Inpatient PC referral for patients with ESLD was associated with lower rates of hospital readmission. Early concurrent PC referral likely has added beneficial effects beyond quality of life issues and symptom management.
BACKGROUND: Intensive care unit (ICU) readmission is generally associated with increased hospital stays and increased mortality. However, there are limited data on ICU readmission in critically ill cancer patients.
METHOD: We conducted a retrospective cohort study based on the prospective registry of all critically ill cancer patients admitted to the oncology medical ICU between January 2012 and December 2013. After excluding patients who were discharged to another hospital or decided to end-of-life care, we divided the enrolled patients into four groups according to the time period from ICU discharge to unexpected events (ICU readmission or ward death) as follows: no (without ICU readmission or death, n = 456), early (within 2 days, n = 42), intermediate (between 2 and 7 days, n = 64), and late event groups (after 7 days of index ICU discharge, n = 129). The independent risk factors associated with ICU readmission or unexpected death after ICU discharge were also analyzed using multinomial logistic regression model.
RESULTS: There were no differences in the reasons for ICU readmission across the groups. ICU mortality did not differ among the groups, but hospital mortality was significantly higher in the late event group than in the early event group. Mechanical ventilation during ICU stay, tachycardia, decreased mental status, and thrombocytopenia on the day of index ICU discharge increased the risk of early ICU readmission or unexpected ward death, while admission through the emergency room and sepsis and respiratory failure as the reasons for index ICU admission were associated with increased risk of late readmission or unexpected ward death. Interestingly, recent chemotherapy within 4 weeks before index ICU admission was inversely associated with the risk of late readmission or unexpected ward death.
CONCLUSION: In critically ill cancer patients, patient characteristics predicting ICU readmission or unexpected ward death were different according to the time period between index ICU discharge and the events.
Objectives: To evaluate the impact of palliative home care support on the quality of care and costs in the last 14 days of life.
Design: Matched cohort study using linked administrative databases.
Setting: All people who died in Belgium in 2012 (n=107 847).
Participants: 8837 people who received palliative home care support in the last 720 to 15 days of life matched 1:1 by propensity score to 8837 people who received usual care.
Intervention: Receiving the allowance for palliative home patients, multidisciplinary palliative home care team visit or palliative nurse or physiotherapist visit at home.
Main outcome measures: Home death, number of family physician contacts, number of primary caregiver contacts, hospital death, hospital admission, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, emergency department (ED) admission, diagnostic testing, blood transfusion and surgery. Total inpatient and outpatient costs. All outcomes were measured in the last 14 days of life.
Results: In the unmatched cohort, 11 149 (13.5%) people received palliative home care support in the last 720 to 15 days of life. After matching, those using palliative home care support had, compared with those who did not, more family physician contacts (mean 3.1 [SD=6.5] vs 0.8 [SD=1.2]), more chance of home death (56.2%vs13.8%; relative risk [RR]=4.08, 95% CI 3.86 to 4.31), lower risk of hospital admission (27.4%vs60.8%; RR=0.45, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.46), ICU admission (18.3%vs40.4%; RR=0.45, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.48) or ED admission (15.2%vs28.1%; RR=0.54, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.57). Mean total costs of care were lower for those using palliative home care support (€3081 [95% CI €3025 to €3136] vs €4698 [95% CI €4610 to €4787]; incremental cost: -€1617 [p<0.001]).
Conclusions: Palliative home care support use positively impacts quality of care and reduces total costs of care at the end of life in Belgium. Policy makers and healthcare practitioners should increasingly focus on communicating the existing options for palliative home care support to patients and their caregivers.
Background: Children with chronic conditions, including cancer, have been shown to have high-intensity end-of-life care. We assessed the frequency and timing of invasive procedures that children with cancer undergo during their terminal hospital admission (THA).
Methods: The Pediatric Health Information System database was queried from 2011 to 2015 for patients ages 1–18 years with a “malignancy” flag who died in the hospital. Patient demographics, admission details, procedures codes, and date of service were extracted. Invasive procedures were categorized into ‘major operations’ or ‘minor procedures’.
Results: 2210 children with cancer were identified as having a THA. During the THA, 1423 (64.4%) patients underwent an invasive procedure and 856 (60.1%) of those children underwent three or more procedures. 466 (21.1%) patients underwent a total of 780 major operations. The most common operations were ventriculostomy/ventriculoperitoneal shunt (n = 211), intracranial mass excision (n = 60), bowel resection (n = 56), and exploratory laparotomy/laparoscopy (n = 46). 101 (21.7%) patients who underwent a major operation died within 48 h of surgery.
Conclusions: Children who have cancer and die in the hospital face a large procedural burden prior to their death. This study highlights the need for open, multidisciplinary discussions regarding the necessity of these procedures and for surgeon involvement in complex end-of-life care decisions.
Hospital readmission rate is a ubiquitous measure of efficiency and quality. Individuals with life-limiting illnesses account heavily for admissions but evaluation is complicated by high-mortality rates. We report a retrospective cohort study examining the association between palliative care (PC) and readmissions while controlling for postdischarge mortality with a competing risks approach. Eligible participants were adult inpatients admitted to an academic, safety-net medical center (2009-2015) with at least one diagnosis of cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver failure, kidney failure, AIDS/HIV, and selected neurodegenerative conditions. PC was associated with reduced 30-, 60-, and 90-day readmissions (subhazard ratios = 0.57, 0.53, and 0.52, respectively [all p < .001]). Hospital PC is associated with a reduction in readmissions, and this is not explained by higher mortality among PC patients. Performance measures only counting those alive at a given end point may underestimate systematically the effects of treatments with a high-mortality rate.
Hospice provides holistic support for individuals living with terminal illness and to their caregivers during the bereavement period. However, some individuals who enroll in hospice services are decertified as they do not experience a decline in health as quickly as required by current regulations, a practice referred to as a live discharge. The interruption in care can affect the physical and psychosocial care needs for individuals and caregivers and leave hospice clinicians with questions about how to best support them. However, there are no formal guidelines to support this process. This qualitative study (N = 24) explored the current practices of hospice social workers across the United States engaged in the live discharge process. Results from this study emphasize the need to bridge the gaps between policy and practice. Specifically, results highlight the challenges hospice social workers face to replicate or supplement the holistic support and unique services hospice provides for individuals discharged alive, and suggest further research to develop live discharge guidelines to identify appropriate support for patients and their caregivers who no longer meet hospice eligibility requirements.