Too many patients with cancer die in acute care hospitals despite palliative options: report

Almost half of all adult cancer deaths in Canada — 45% — happen in acute care hospitals, although many people would have benefited from palliative care at home or in hospices, states a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The institute’s End-of-Life Hospital Care for Cancer Patients examined hospital data for 25 114 cancer patients from all provinces except Quebec. The study reviewed the final 28 days of patients age 20 or older, and found palliative care was the main reason 53% of all patients with cancer were in hospital. But acute care hospitals are not generally designed to provide the specialized care required by patients who are terminally ill with cancer require, the report points out.

The report also found a wide variance in the percentage of people with cancer who died in acute-care settings, depending upon the province in which they died. The likelihood of a patient with terminal cancer dying in hospital was 39% in British Columbia and 40% in Ontario, for example, compared to 66% in New Brunswick and 69% in Manitoba. The report’s authors speculate that palliative care at home or in hospices is more available in provinces with a greater percentage of the population living in urban settings, such as Ontario and British Columbia. More.

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About The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson

Ordained to the priesthood in December, 2010.
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