NHPCO Cites Concern Over Growing Short Length of Service in New Facts and Figures on Hospice Care in the U.S.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 General News J E 4

New Report on Hospice Care in America Released as November's National Hospice/Palliative Care Month Begins

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 35 percent (35.4) of patients served by hospices in 2008 died or were discharged in seven days or less reports the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. This reflects a 4.6 percent increase from 2007, when 30.8 percent of patients had what is considered a short hospice experience.

Patients and families receiving care for seven days or less are often unable to take full advantage of the range of benefits that the hospice interdisciplinary team provides. These benefits include psychosocial support and spiritual care for patients and their families as well as pain management and symptom control.

While the average length of service increased from 67.4 days in 2007 to 69.5 days in 2008, the jump in patients receiving care for a short time is of concern to hospice providers and NHPCO.

Only 12.1 percent of those served died or were discharged with service of 180 days or more.

"NHPCO Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America," was released by NHPCO as November's National Hospice/Palliative Care Month, an annual month of awareness and outreach, begins.

NHPCO emphasizes the value of hospice care over the last months of a person's life, not just the last days.

"More awareness of the care options available when facing a serious or life-limiting illness--among both the public and healthcare professionals--is still needed," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

"The advance care planning provision that has been so hotly debated in health care reform discussions could be an important mechanism for helping dying Americans avoid hospice experiences that are too short to fully help them or their family caregivers."

Learning about options before a patient and family are faced with a health crisis is strongly recommended by NHPCO. Hospices frequently provide information to community members interested in advance care planning.

Additional information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available from NHPCO's Caring Connections at or by calling the HelpLine at 800-658-8898.

"NHPCO Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America," is available in the News Room at

Contact: Jon Radulovic Vice President of Communications Ph: 703-837-3139

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization


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