For Many Dying Elderly in Bay Area, Aggressive Cancer Treatment Despite Their Wishes

Most seniors with terminal cancer say they want to die at home or
in a hospice, surrounded by loved ones, not high-tech medical heroics. Yet a
new study finds many of them spend their final days in hospital intensive care
units, or leave the hospital only a few days before they die. What's more,
researchers from the famed Dartmouth Atlas Group found, where you live may have
a lot to do with what happens to you. For example, 45 percent of senior
advanced cancer patients in St. Petersburg spent time in an intensive care unit
during their last month of life. But that happened to just about 10 percent of
similar patients in Bismarck, N.D., and 15 percent in Colorado Springs, Colo.
On the other hand, about 19 percent of senior terminal cancer patients in
Florida died in a hospital. In California, the figure was 31 percent. These
geographic variations come as no surprise to Dr. Robert Walker, Director of
Ethics, Humanities, and Palliative Medicine at University of South Florida
Health. "This study highlights a common problem," he said.
"People are still receiving very aggressive care at the end of life, when
their preferences are to not go for length of life, but to choose quality of
life. There's a mismatch between what patients seem to want and what they seem
to get."

Source/more: Tampa Bay Times

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