Heart failure (HF) is a progressive condition with high mortality and heavy symptom burden. Despite guideline recommendations, cardiologists refer to palliative care at rates much lower than other specialties and very late in the course of the disease, often in the final 3 days of life. One reason for delayed referral is that prognostication is challenging in patients with HF, making it unclear when and how the limited resources of specialist palliative care will be most beneficial. It might be more prudent to consider palliative care referrals at critical moments in the trajectory of patients with HF. These include: a) the development of poor prognostic signs in the outpatient setting; b) hospitalization or intensive care unit admission, and c) at the time of evaluation for certain procedures, such as left ventricular assist device placement and ablation for refractory ventricular arrhythmias, among others. In this review, we also summarize the results of clinical trials evaluating palliative interventions in these settings.
Palliative care (PC) improves the quality of life of patients with diseases such as cancer, and several studies have shown a reduction in costs among patients who use PC services when compared with those receiving standard oncological treatments. Most studies on PC costs are carried out in high-income countries. There is a lack of these types of studies in middle-income and low-income countries and of better evidence about this intervention.
OBJECTIVE: To describe resource utilisation and costs among patients with cancer in a Brazilian quaternary hospital by cancer localisation and per month of treatment before death.
METHODS: This study is a description of retrospective costs to estimate the costs of formal healthcare sector associated with PCs, from the perspective of a public quaternary cancer hospital. Unit costs were estimated using microcosting and macrocosting approaches.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Patients older than 18 years old who died from 2010 to 2013 and who had at least two visits in PC and/or made use of hospice care.
RESULTS: Among the 2985 patients included in the study, the average cost per patient was US$12 335, ranging from US$8269 for patients with pancreatic cancer to US$19 395 for patients with brain cancer. The main costing item was hospital admission (47.6% of the total cost), followed by hospice care (29.5%) and medical and other supplies (11.1%).
CONCLUSIONS: The study clarified the direct medical costs and the profile and use of resources of patients with cancer who need PC, and can help in the planning and allocation of resources in cancer care.
BACKGROUND: From 2014 to 2017, the Palliative Medicine Working Group developed and published best practice recommendations for the integration of palliative care in Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCCs) in Germany. To evaluate the implementation level of these recommendations in the CCCs an online survey was performed. Based on the results of this study, strategic tandem partnerships between CCCs should be built in order to foster further local development.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Directors of all CCCs were contacted by e-mail between December 2017 and February 2018. At the time of the survey, 15 CCCs were funded by the German Cancer Aid. The level of implementation of the recommendations in individual CCCs was established using a transtheoretical model.
RESULTS: Between December 2017 and February 2018, all 15 contacted directors or their representatives of the CCCs took part in the survey. More than two thirds of the CCCs have a palliative service as well as a day clinic and palliative outpatient clinic. Regional networking and the provision of a palliative care unit were approved by all CCCs.
CONCLUSION: The publication of best practice recommendations was a milestone for the integration of palliative care in the CCCs. The majority of the German CCCs already fulfill essential organizational and structural requirements. There is a particular need for optimization in the provision of a basic qualification for general palliative care and emergency admission personnel.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: In 2017, the Palliative Medicine Working Group in the network of the German Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCCs) published the best practice recommendations it had developed for the integration of palliative medicine in CCCs in Germany. In order to evaluate the level of implementation of the recommendations, an online survey of the CCC directors was established. The majority of German CCCs fulfil elementary organizational and structural requirements. However, there is still room for improvement in the provision of a basic qualification for general palliative care and emergency admission personnel.
BACKGROUND: ALS is an incurable neurodegenerative disorder, with the recommendation that symptom management and palliative care start immediately or soon after diagnosis. However, little is known about healthcare utilization at the end of life in this patient group.
AIM: To describe healthcare utilization at the end of life in patients who died from ALS.
DESIGN: We performed a retrospective cohort study using population-level administrative databases. The description of healthcare utilization was based on (1) validated quality indicators for end-of-life care, and (2) the European Federation of Neurological Societies guidelines on the clinical management of ALS.
SETTING: We included all people who died from ALS in Belgium between 2010 and 2015 (using ICD-10 code G12.2).
RESULTS: 1636 people died from ALS in Belgium between 2010 and 2015. The mean age at death was 71 years (SD11.3), and 56% were men. Specialized palliative care was used by 44% at some point in the last two years of life. In the last month of life, 13% received tube feeding, 48% received diagnostic testing, 41% were admitted to a hospital, and 25% were admitted to an emergency department. Medications were used mainly to treat pain (43%), insomnia and fatigue (33%) and thrombosis (32%); 39% used riluzole. Non-invasive ventilation was used by 18%. 39% died at home.
CONCLUSION: Administrative data provide a valuable source to describe healthcare utilization in small populations such as ALS, but more clinical evidence is needed on the advantages and disadvantages initiating or terminating treatments at the end of life.
This article is an analysis of the relationship between US hospice structure and the feeling of being a burden to others (FBO). A goal of US hospice care is to reduce the FBO. But in America, hospice is limited in its ability to do so because of the high caregiver burden it places on family members of dying people. Through a historical study, I show that this burden was excessive when the hospice system was created and has worsened over time. Through three ethnographic vignettes, I demonstrate how this burden inculcates in dying people the FBO. I then examine the bioethical implications of this finding for the existing US debate about physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The presence of FBO due to insufficient hospice care supports arguments made by PAS opponents about the social pressure placed on dying people. This finding is not itself sufficient to resolve the "right to die" debate. But it provides the ground for a compromise, across the debate, to reduce the FBO by changing US hospice structure. The resulting consensus will further the goals of both PAS proponents and opponents.
OBJECTIVES: As ICUs are increasingly a site of end-of-life care, many have adopted end-of-life care resources. We sought to determine the association of such resources with outcomes of ICU patients.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: Pennsylvania ICUs.
PATIENTS: Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.
INTERVENTIONS: Availability of any of one hospital-based resource ( palliative care consultants) or four ICU-based resources ( protocol for withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, triggers for automated palliative care consultation, protocol for family meetings, and palliative care clinicians embedded in ICU rounds).
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: In mixed-effects regression analyses, admission to a hospital with end-of-life resources was not associated with mortality, length of stay, or treatment intensity (mechanical ventilation, hemodialysis, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, artificial nutrition, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation); however, it was associated with a higher likelihood of discharge to hospice (odds ratio, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.11-2.24), an effect that was driven by ICU-based resources (odds ratio, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.04-1.81) rather than hospital-based resources (odds ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.83-1.71). Instrumental variable analysis using differential distance (defined as the additional travel distance beyond the hospital closest to a patient's home needed to reach a hospital with end-of-life resources) demonstrated that among those for whom differential distance would influence receipt of end-of-life resources, admission to a hospital with such resources was not associated with any outcome.
CONCLUSIONS: ICU-based end-of-life care resources do not appear to change mortality but are associated with increased hospice utilization. Given that this finding was not confirmed by the instrumental variable analysis, future studies should attempt to verify this finding, and identify specific resources or processes of care that impact the care of ICU patients at the end of life.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The concept of palliative care is becoming increasingly important in the management of glioma patients. However, the right time for implementation, as well as the individual degree of integration of palliative care aspects, are still a matter of debate. This review updates recent evidence of palliative care in glioma and raises questions for future developments.
RECENT FINDINGS: According to the disease-specific aspects of palliative care in glioma management, there is an increasing need for a specialized 'neurooncological' palliative care approach.The implementation of palliative care for glioma patients and caregivers avoids unnecessary hospitalization and reduces health-related costs. Moreover, palliative care may be offered in different settings (inpatient/outpatient) according to local health structures, but definitely improves the QOL of glioma patients and their caregivers.
SUMMARY: There are considerable differences between countries with respect to palliative care in glioma. Major aspects of good-quality care throughout the countries are optimized symptom control, support for patients and proxies by an interdisciplinary team and to provide realistic information to patients and caregivers. The availability of neurooncological palliative teams and multidisciplinary support programs increases well being of glioma patients and caregivers as well as releases pressure on healthcare systems.
Palliative care in oncology is an interdisciplinary approach, centered on patients and their families, carried out along the course of neoplastic diseases, based on symptom control, assertive communication and shared decision-making. Although clinical guidelines recommend a holistic intervention, early integration of palliative care into traditional oncological treatment, research shows a great delay in referral of patients, restricting palliative care to end-of-life care. Why does there seem to be a rationing of the early referral, sometimes in violation of human dignity? To a large extent it has to do with lack of knowledge, training and education of health professionals about palliative care and the techniques to deal with the process of death and dying. Several studies have demonstrated the benefit of integrating palliative actions into the routine of active cancer treatments, not only in terms of effective control of physical and psychological symptoms, but also in terms of overall quality of life, patient and family satisfaction, health care costs and survival in some cases. It is necessary to take measures that encourage oncologists to obtain further training in palliative care, as a formal, compulsory internship, integrated in their specific training program. This way, a new generation of physicians will surely change the lives of cancer patients, and their families, integrating - without disproportionate rationing - oncology and palliative medicine.
Specialist Palliative Care aims to effectively support the quality of life of patients and those close to them through progressive, life-limiting disease. Quality of life, an individual concept, requires a personalized approach to support and maintain it. Primarily achieved through the management of symptoms, both physical and psychological, alongside social and spiritual support, this approach is of the utmost importance to patients with advanced malignancy. Several randomized, controlled trials suggest earlier provision of specialist palliative care may increase quality of life, improve symptoms and facilitate considered end of life care planning. This appears beneficial; however, evidence is mixed about the effectiveness of early specialist palliative care and its potential benefits. Results, therefore, should be interpreted with caution. In reviewing the literature, it is clear that implementing early specialist palliative care is fraught with obstacles and requires increased resources and funding. Until the benefits and cost implications for such provision are better understood, it will not be accessible to all that may have potential to benefit.
There is a paucity of data regarding the utilization of palliative care consultation (PCC) in surgical specialties. We conducted a retrospective review of 2321 adult patients (age =18) who died within 6 months of admission to Boston Medical Center from 2012 to 2017. Patients were included for analysis if their length of stay was more than 48 hours and if, based on their diagnoses as determined by literature review and expert consensus, they would have benefited from PCC. Bayesian regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 99% credible intervals (CrI) of receiving PCC adjusted for age, sex, race, insurance status, median income, and comorbidity status. Among the 739 patients who fit the inclusion criteria, only 30% (n = 222) received PCC even though 664 (90%) and 75 (10%) of these patients were identified as warranting PCC on medical and surgical services, respectively. Of the 222 patients who received PCC, 214 (96%) were cared for by medical services and 8 (4%) were cared for by surgical services. Patients cared for primarily by surgical were significantly less likely to receive PCC than primary patients of medical service providers (OR, 0.19, 99% CrI, 0.056-0.48). At our institution, many surgical patients appropriate for PCC are unable to benefit from this service due to low consultation numbers. Further investigation is warranted to examine if this phenomenon is observed at other institutions, elucidate the reasons for this disparity, and develop interventions to increase the appropriate use of PCC throughout all medical specialties.
BACKGROUND: Although the benefits of palliative care for patients with cancer has been well established, the current utilization pattern remains largely unknown. The authors investigated the temporal trends and service settings of palliative care among Medicare beneficiaries with newly diagnosed, metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
METHODS: In total, 69,414 patients with NSCLC were identified between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2013 from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare-linked database. Temporal trends in palliative care use and the temporal shift in palliative care service settings were assessed using the Cochran-Armitage test. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to identify predictors for the receipt of palliative care, controlling for patients' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.
RESULTS: Fifteen percent (10,359) of patients with NSCLC received palliative care within 1 year of a diagnosis of metastatic NSCLC. The proportion of beneficiaries receiving palliative care increased from 3.6% in 2001 to 31.9% in 2013 (P for trend <.001). Multivariable analyses demonstrated that receipt of palliative care varied significantly by sex, race, and region. Most patients (53.5%) had their first receipt of palliative care in a hospital. Less than one-third of patients (27.6%) received palliative care in an outpatient setting or received palliative care in more than 1 service setting (26.3%) in 2013.
CONCLUSIONS: The number of patients with metastatic NSCLC receiving palliative care has increased substantially. Although the hospital-based program is still the main form of palliative care delivery, more patients in recent years have received palliative care services in multiple locations.
CONTEXT: Palliative care improves patient and family outcomes and may reduce the cost of care, but this service is underutilized among Medicare beneficiaries.
OBJECTIVES: To describe enrollment patterns and outcomes associated with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation expansion of a multisetting community palliative care program in North and South Carolina.
METHODS: This observational study characterizes the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation cohort's care and cost trajectories after enrollment. Program participants were age-eligible Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries living in Western North Carolina and South Carolina who enrolled in a palliative care program from September 1, 2014, to August 31, 2017. End-of-life costs were compared between enrolled and nonenrolled decedents. Program administrative data and 100% Medicare claims data were used.
RESULTS: A total of 5243 Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program from community (19%), facility (21%), small hospital (27%), or large hospital (33%) settings. Changes in Medicare expenditures in the 30 days after enrollment varied by setting. Adjusted odds of hospice use were 60% higher (OR = 1.60; CI = 1.47, 1.75) for enrolled decedents relative to nonenrolled decedents. Participants discharged to hospice vs. participants not had 17% (OR = 0.83 CI = 0.72, 0.94) lower costs. Among enrolled decedents those enrolled for at least 30 days vs. <30 days had 42% (OR = 0.58, CI = 0.49, 0.69) lower costs in the last 30 days of life.
CONCLUSIONS: Expansion of community palliative care programs into multiple enrollment settings is feasible. It may improve hospice utilization among enrollees. Heterogeneous program participation by program setting pose challenges to a standardizing reimbursement policy.
Cirrhosis with decompensation has a poor prognosis, high symptom burden and causes carer stress. This pilot research in one tertiary hospital found that patients with cirrhosis with decompensation were infrequently referred to specialist palliative care. Despite this, they had a heavy symptom burden, high predicted mortality, frequent unplanned readmissions, long admissions and intensive care unit admissions. Few had adequate advance care planning.
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.
Background: An international panel achieved consensus on 9 need-based and 2 time-based major referral criteria to identify patients appropriate for outpatient palliative care referral. To better understand the operational characteristics of these criteria, we examined the proportion and timing of patients who met these referral criteria at our Supportive Care Clinic.
Methods: We retrieved data on consecutive patients with advanced cancer who were referred to our Supportive Care Clinic between January 1, 2016, and February 18, 2016. We examined the proportion of patients who met each major criteria and its timing.
Results: Among 200 patients (mean age 60, 53% female), the median overall survival from outpatient palliative care referral was 14 (95% confidence interval 9.2, 17.5) months. A majority (n = 170, 85%) of patients met at least 1 major criteria; specifically, 28%, 30%, 20%, and 8% met 1, 2, 3, and = 4 criteria, respectively. The most commonly met need-based criteria were severe physical symptoms (n = 140, 70%), emotional symptoms (n = 36, 18%), decision-making needs (n = 26, 13%), and brain/leptomeningeal metastases (n = 25, 13%). For time-based criteria, 54 (27%) were referred within 3 months of diagnosis of advanced cancer and 63 (32%) after progression from = 2 lines of palliative systemic therapy. The median duration from patient first meeting any criterion to palliative care referral was 2.4 (interquartile range 0.1, 8.6) months.
Conclusions: Patients were referred early to our palliative care clinic and a vast majority (85%) of them met at least one major criteria. Standardized referral based on these criteria may facilitate even earlier referral.
Background:: Palliative care services and life-sustaining treatments are provided to dying patients with lung cancer in the United States. However, data on the utilization trends of palliative care services and life-sustaining treatments of dying patients with lung cancer are not available.
Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of the National Inpatient Sample data (2005-2014) and included patients with lung cancer, aged = 18 years, who died in the hospitals. Claims data of palliative care services and life-sustaining treatments that contained systemic procedures, local procedures, or surgeries were extracted. Compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) using Rao-Scott correction for 2 tests were used to determine the statistical significance of temporal utilization trends of palliative care services and life-sustaining treatments and their hospital costs. Multilevel multivariate regressions were performed to identify factors associated with hospital costs.
Results: A total of 120 144 weighted patients with lung cancer died in the hospitals and 41.9% of them received palliative care services. The CAGRs of systemic procedures, local procedures, surgeries, palliative care services, and hospital cost were 3.42%, 3.48%, 6.08%, 18.5%, and 5.0% (all P < .001), respectively. Increased hospital cost was attributed to systemic procedures (50.6%), local procedures (74.4%), and surgeries (68.5%; all P < .001), respectively. Palliative care services were related to decreasing hospital costs by 28.6% (P < .001).
Conclusion: The temporal trends of palliative care services indicate that their utilization has increased gradually. Palliative care services were associated with reduced hospital costs. However, life-sustaining treatments were associated with increased hospital costs.
BACKGROUND: Aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care is associated with lower quality of life and greater regret about treatment decisions. Higher EOL costs are also associated with lower quality EOL care. Advance care planning and goals-of-care conversations ("EOL discussions") may influence EOL health-care utilization and costs among persons with cancer.
OBJECTIVE: To describe associations among EOL discussions, health-care utilization and place of death, and costs in persons with advanced cancer and explore variation in study measures.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL. Twenty quantitative studies published between January 2012 and January 2019 were included.
RESULTS: End-of-life discussions are associated with lower health-care costs in the last 30 days of life (median US$1048 vs US$23482; P < .001); lower likelihood of acute care at EOL (odds ratio [(OR] ranging 0.43-0.69); lower likelihood of intensive care at EOL (ORs ranging 0.26-0.68); lower odds of chemotherapy near death (ORs 0.41, 0.57); lower odds of emergency department use and shorter length of hospital stay; greater use of hospice (ORs ranging 1.79 to 6.88); and greater likelihood of death outside the hospital. Earlier EOL discussions (30+ days before death) are more strongly associated with less aggressive care outcomes than conversations occurring near death.
CONCLUSIONS: End-of-life discussions are associated with less aggressive, less costly EOL care. Clinicians should initiate these discussions with patients having cancer earlier to better align care with preferences.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care can improve end-of-life care and reduce health care expenditures, but the optimal timing for initiation remains unclear. We sought to characterize the association between timing of palliative care, in-hospital deaths, and health care costs.
METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study including all patients who were diagnosed and died of colorectal cancer between 2004 and 2012 in Manitoba, Canada. The primary exposure was timing of palliative care, defined as no involvement, late involvement (less than 14 d before death), early involvement (14 to 60 d before death), and very early involvement (>60 d before death). The primary outcome was in-hospital deaths and end-of-life health care costs.
RESULTS: A total of 1607 patients were included; 315 (20%) received palliative care and 162 (10%) died in hospital. Compared to those who did not receive palliative care, patients with early and very early involvement experienced significantly decreased odds of dying in hospital (OR 0.21 95% CI 0.06-0.69 P = 0.01 and OR 0.11 95% CI 0.01-0.78 P = 0.03, respectively) and significantly lower health care costs. There were no significant differences in in-hospital deaths and health care costs between patients without palliative care and those who received late palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Early palliative care involvement is associated with decreased odds of dying in hospital and lower health care utilization and costs in patients with colorectal cancer. These findings provide real-world evidence supporting early integration of palliative care, although the optimal timing (early versus very early) remains a matter of debate.
Importance: Use of palliative care (PC) for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased recently. However, it is unknown if patients are receiving earlier referrals to PC.
Objective: To assess characteristics and trends of patients with CVD referred to PC.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Cohort study in which analysis of data from the multicenter Quality Data Collection Tool for Palliative Care registry from January 2, 2015, through December 29, 2017, included patients with CVD 18 years or older referred to initial PC consultation who had a documented palliative performance score (PPS) .
Exposures: Patients with CVD who presented for an initial PC visit.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was PPS. Secondary outcomes included symptoms and end-of-life documentation.
Results: Among 1801 patients (mean [SD] age, 77.7 [13.7] years) from 16 sites in the analysis, 875 (48.6%) were women and 1339 (74.3%) were white. A low PPS score (0%-30%), consistent with bedbound status, was recorded for 521 patients (28.9%), with no change through time. The most common moderate to severe symptoms were poor well-being, tiredness, anorexia, and dyspnea. Year of encounter was associated with improved symptoms of pain (odds ratio, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.50) and with constipation (odds ratio, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.03-1.69). No change through time was noted in other symptoms or end-of-life documentation. Although the proportion of referrals from general medicine increased from 43.2% (167 of 387) in 2015 to 52.9% (410 of 775) in 2017, the proportion of referrals from cardiologists decreased from 16.5% (64 of 387) in 2015 to 10.5% (81 of 775) in 2017. The proportion of patients referred to PC who were black decreased from 11.9% (46 of 387) in 2015 to 6.3% (49 of 775) in 2017. While 69.5% of all patients with CVD (1252 of 1801) had a primary diagnosis of heart failure, the proportion of non-heart failure CVD diagnoses, such as coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease, increased from 25.6% (99 of 387) in 2015 to 30.1% (233 of 775) in 2017.
Conclusions and Relevance: Patients with CVD demonstrated significant symptom burden, and there was no evidence in the registry of change in the PPSs of patients with CVD referred to PC through time. Cardiologists provided comparatively fewer referrals to PC for patients with CVD, and this proportion decreased through time. The proportion of racial and ethnic minorities referred to PC was small and decreased through time. These findings reinforce the need for cardiologists to be more engaged with PC and consider referring appropriate patients with CVD sooner.
BACKGROUND: High rates of health care utilization at the end of life may be a marker of care that does not align with patient-stated preferences. We sought to describe trends in end-of-life care and factors associated with dying in hospital.
METHODS: We conducted a population-level retrospective cohort study of adult decedents in Ontario between Apr. 1, 2004, and Mar. 31, 2015, using linked administrative data sets, including the Office of the Registrar General for Deaths database, the hospital Discharge Abstract Database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System and physicians' billing claims (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). The primary outcome was place of death. To determine health care utilization and health care costs during the 6 months before death, we also identified admissions to hospital and to the intensive care unit, emergency department visits, and receipt of mechanical ventilation and palliative care.
RESULTS: In the last 6 months of life, 77.3% of 962 462 decedents presented to an emergency department, 68.4% were admitted to hospital, 19.4% were admitted to an intensive care unit, and 13.9% received mechanical ventilation. Forty-five percent of all deaths occurred in hospital, a proportion that declined marginally over time, whereas receipt of palliative care increased during terminal hospital admissions (from 14.0% in fiscal year 2004/05 to 29.3% in 2014/15, p < 0.001) and in the last 6 months of life (from 28.1% in 2004/05 to 57.7% in 2014/15, p < 0.001). The proportion of decedents who presented to the emergency department, were admitted to hospital or were admitted to the intensive care unit in the last 6 months of life did not change over 11 years. The mean total health care costs in the last 6 months of life were highest among those dying in hospital, with most costs attributable to inpatient medical care.
INTERPRETATION: Health care utilization in the last 6 months of life was substantial and did not decrease over time. It is possible that increased capacity for palliative, hospice and home care at the end of life may help to better align health system resources with the preferences of most patients, a topic that should be explored in future studies.