End-of-life cancer care, whether decided by doctor or patient, favors intensive treatment that may be shortchanging a person’s chance of greater comfort in their dying days, Dartmouth College researchers said.
Janet Stubbs was grateful when the nursing home recommended hospice care for her aunt Midge. Although Stubbs knew her aunt wasn’t dying, the offer of free, Medicare-paid hospice visits from a nurse and chaplain, plus an extra weekly bath, was too good to pass up.
More people are dying in hospice care rather than in the hospital, though the shift hasn’t led to less aggressive treatment or lower costs as patients spend additional time in intensive care units in the last month of life.
Suffering from painful nerve damage in his feet, Charles Groomes was prescribed a daily dose of 205 milligrams of Oxycontin and oxycodone in 2007. His doctor wrote that it was the most he was comfortable prescribing -- more, he said, than anyone without cancer should take.