The popularity of hospice programs continues to rise, according to a new study from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association. In 2001, 18.8 percent of Medicare patients who passed away accessed three days or more off hospice care; by 2007, 30.1 percent of Medicare decedents did so. The study also found the average length of stay for hospice patients is declining, from 69 days in 2009 to 67.3 days in 2010.

Among the other findings:

  • In 2010, 1.58 million patients received hospice care. Of those, 1.029 million died under hospice care, roughly 292,000 remained in hospice care at the end of 2010 and 259,000 were discharged.
  • In 2010, roughly 41.9 percent of all U.S. deaths were under the care of a hospice program.
  • Approximately 35.3 percent of hospice patients died or were discharged within seven days of admission, up from 34.4 percent in 2009.
  • The majority of hospice patients receive care at home; however, the proportion of hospice patients who died in acute care facilities increased from 10.1 percent in 2009 to 11.4 percent in 2010.

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