Americans spend more time in hospitals in their final days

The average time spent in hospice and palliative care is falling in the United States. In 2008, one-third of people who received hospice care received it for a week or less, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

The Associated Press reports that hospitalizations during the last six months of life are on the rise.  A study of Medicare records found that nearly 12 percent of cancer patients who died in 1999 received chemo in the last two weeks of life, up from nearly 10 percent in 1993. Treating chronic illness in the last two years of life accounts for nearly one-third of all Medicare spending. 

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, June 28, 2010; The Associated Press, June 27, 2010)