CDC says fewer people are dying in hospitals, highlighting importance of end-of-life care in nursing homes, hospices

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The number of people dying in hospitals decreased 8% between 2000-2010 even as overall hospitalizations rose, suggesting nursing homes, hospices and home health providers are playing larger roles in end-of-life care. These numbers appeared in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday.

The CDC researchers did not determine where hospital patients went after discharge, but their findings support the idea that many of these people went to post-acute care providers.

For example, the percentage of hospital deaths for those under 65 increased 9% during the study period, while hospital deaths among those older than 65 decreased 3%. The rate of inpatient deaths of females — who have a longer average lifespan than men — decreased from 411,000 in 2000 to 364,000 ten years later.

In-hospital deaths for those admitted with pneumonia decreased 33% in the decade studied. Among those admitted for a stroke, inpatient deaths decreased 27%. Heart disease-related inpatient deaths decreased 16%.

The CDC numbers suggest the growing importance of hospice and palliative care in long-term care settings. Recognizing this need, legislators recently introduced a bill to increase education and professional development in these areas.