Hospice CareJune 21, 2017
Hospice care is end-of-life medical care that is designed to ease suffering and keep patients as comfortable as possible. In the United States, hospitals vary in terms of how and when they decide to move stroke patients from a treatment facility to hospice. A recent study found that doctors are more likely to recommend hospice care sooner for patients who are older, uninsured, as well as Caucasian females.
According to a particular study, author Doctor Shyam Prabhakaran, Professor of Neurology and Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, states that the fatality rate in stroke patients is high; therefore, hospice care plays an important role in keeping these patients comfortable during their final days. However, Prabhakaran argued that there is little data about how and when doctors decide to transition a stroke patient from treatment to hospice care.
To address this issue, Prabhakaran and his colleagues analyzed data from approximately one million stroke patients in 1,675 hospitals between 2009 and 2013. They discovered that close to 55,000 patients were given orders for comfort care only by their doctor. Based on the data, the study revealed the following:
- While 5.6 percent of patients were moved to comfort care, the rate varied from 0.6 percent to 37.6 percent among hospitals.
- Over the course of the four-year study period, the percentage of patients who were transitioned to early comfort care fell from 6.1 percent to 5.4 percent.
- Patients with bleeding strokes have a higher risk of fatality than those whose stroke was caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. These patients were more likely to be moved to hospice sooner.
- Patients who were most likely to have early comfort orders included older Caucasian female patients who were unable to walk and were either uninsured or covered by Medicaid, as well as those who arrived at the hospital during off-hours or by ambulance.
Additional Research Needed to Understand Why Hospitals Move Patients
When it comes to hospice care for stroke patients, hospitals across the country vary in terms of how and when to transition these patients from treatment to palliative care. The decision to move a patient is influenced by the type of stroke, as well as the characteristics of the hospital and the patient. Dr. Robert Holloway, a Neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, discussed the impact that severe strokes can have on the patient and his or her family. When a patient’s health has been seriously compromised, the patient, his or her family, and the doctor must have a discussion about the patient’s quality of life going forward.
Holloway remarked that the study conducted by Prabhakaran and his colleagues provides valuable insight into how these transitions are happening and encourages conversation about how the healthcare industry can improve the process in a way that provides quality care while respecting the patient’s wishes.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Medical Negligence
If you or a loved one has been moved to hospice care against your wishes, you are urged to contact the highly respected Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. After a thorough review of your case, we will recommend the best legal course of action. Our dedicated team will work to obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.