A new report from the Dartmouth Atlas finds that chronically ill Medicare patients are logging fewer hospital days and receiving more hospice care in the last six months of life, leading to a decline in the percentage of chronically ill patients who died in a hospital from 32.2 percent in 2003 to 28.1 percent in 2007. The report also found that chronically ill Medicare patients who are admitted to hospitals are spending more time in intensive care and receiving more visits from physicians.
Among the other key findings:
- The average patient logged 10.9 hospital days in the last six months of life in 2007, down from 11.3 days in 2003.
- 36.1 percent of chronically ill patients were treated by 10 or more doctors in 2007, up from 30.8 percent in 2003.
- Among 35 academic medical centers surveyed, 22 reported increases in the number of patients seeing 10 or more doctors in the last six months of life from 2003-2007.
- In 2007, chronically ill patients in Manhattan averaged 20.6 days in the hospital in their last six months of life, nearly four times higher than in Ogden, Utah, where those patients averaged 5.2 hospital days.