Hospital spending on end-of-life care varies

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Teaching hospitals spend diverse amounts of money on chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries during their last two years of life, according to a new report from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care.

Researchers analyzed data from 93 hospitals concerning over 190,000 Medicare beneficiaries who died between 2001 and 2005. The length of hospitalization, the number of physicians involved in treatment and the amount of time spent in intensive care units were among the factors taken into consideration when determining the cost of care.

Of the top five teaching hospitals in the U.S., as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, the Mayo Clinic spent the least - only $53,432 per beneficiary during the last two years of life. Meanwhile, the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center rang up the most at $93,842. The national average was $67,369. Authors note that costs tend to be higher at hospitals where more treatment options are available.

The study can be found online at http://www.dartmouthatlas.org.