Monday, April 07, 2008

Chronically Ill and Dying Receive Too Much Care

So claims a recent Dartmouth study . . .

Dartmouth researchers say that total Medicare spending in the last two years of life ranges from an average of $93,842 for patients who receive most of their care at U.C.L.A. Medical Center to $53,432 at the Mayo Clinic's main teaching hospital in Rochester, Minn.

and . . .

Differences in the last six months of life were even more striking. Medicare spent an average of $52,911 for U.C.L.A. patients and $28,763 for those who used the Mayo hospital, St. Marys.

Wonder what they will do? Ship you off to a lower cost facility?

"Some chronically ill and dying Americans are receiving too much care -- more than they and their families actually want or benefit from

Too much care.

Are the providers milking the Medicare system? Or is this Medicare's way of rationing?

Then there is this exchange.

Dr. Langberg cited two limits of the Dartmouth study. The researchers focused on patients who died, not those who lived, and they did not have access to laboratory results or other clinical information on patients.

To which a Dartmouth researcher responded,

Prof. Elliott S. Fisher of Dartmouth, a co-author of the study, said those observations were correct. But he added: "We are comparing patients with identical outcomes -- all were dead in two years

Well that's comforting.
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