A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined changes in end-of-life care for Medicare beneficiaries from 2000 to 2009. The study authors reported an increase in the use of hospice care, particularly for cancer patients, but also an increase in ICU usage, health care transitions in the last 90 days of life, and referrals to hospice care in the last three days of life. In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Grace Jenq and Mary Tinetti noted that “The increased availability of palliative and hospice care services does not appear to have changed the focus on aggressive, curative care. Hospice services appeared to be tagged on to the last days of life.” In an interview with POLITICO, study author Dr. Joan Teno said, ““We are not getting the right care to the right people. And if we want to improve care, we’ve got to change the incentives — and publicly report the quality of care [for the dying].”

Read the JAMA Study Online >> 

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