(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Hospice care, which is intended to make people more comfortable as they near the end of life, often comes too late to be truly effective.
A report by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization says that a third of the 1.5 million patients who received this specialized treatment last year passed away within a week of receiving it.
In fact, half receiving hospice care were alive for less than 18 days from the point when they were first visited by health care workers trained in helping and comforting those whose conditions can't be improved by medicine.
Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the NHPCO, said in a statement, "We need to reach patients earlier in the course of their illness to ensure they receive the full benefits that hospice and palliative care can offer."
In one bit of brighter news, 66 percent of hospice care was provided at the places where people lived, whether it was their own homes, residential facilities or long-term care centers.
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