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PNS Daily Newscast - December 14, 2017 


GOP leaders reach an agreement on their tax bill, we have a report on the likely squeeze on state and local revenues; also on our nationwide rundown; should ex-felons have the right to vote or own guns? And we will clue you in on the most dangerous place to drive this holiday season.

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Report: Hospice Underutilized, Patient Stays Too Short

Cancer was the most common diagnosis of hospice patients, accounting for approximately 28 percent of the hospice population. (Pixabay/maxlkt)
Cancer was the most common diagnosis of hospice patients, accounting for approximately 28 percent of the hospice population. (Pixabay/maxlkt)
October 6, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Hospice is ideally suited to supporting caregivers and patients throughout the last months of life, not just the last days. So says the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, responding to the latest facts and figures that indicate people who access care often do so too late to fully benefit.

The organization's chief executive, Edo Banach, says the research published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, indicates they're headed in the wrong direction.

"The most poignant message that comes out when you look at the statistics is that hospice length of stay is going down, and that is concerning," he says.

Banach says it's a complex problem, but one of the key issues is that patients and their families too often view the acceptance of hospice care as a sign they've given up.

Nine Iowa hospitals are participating in a national study which gives people who qualify for the Medicaid hospice benefit the option to elect to receive supportive-care services typically provided by hospice while continuing to receive curative services.

The report shows that the median length of hospice service in the United States is 23 days. Banach says their motivation to increase the length of hospice care is not financial.

"If we were the National Widget Organization, I think you would have a fair point," he adds. "But I think that we do want to make sure folks are getting the appropriate care."

Banach says there's a cultural challenge they're dealing with as well. He notes that the concept of death isn't something people are willing to address.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA