Navigation Links
Many Medicare Patients Get Surgeries in Last Year of Life: Study
Date:10/6/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one-third of Medicare beneficiaries in fee-for-service plans have inpatient surgery in the last year of their life, a new Harvard study finds.

But the issue of whether such surgery is necessary or not is a tricky one that can only be decided by the doctor, the patient and patient's family, said Dr. Frank Opelka, an associate medical director at the American College of Surgeons.

Nor is there any good way to predict when an elderly patient is going to die.

"There's no way possible to know ... if it's the person's last year of life," said Jane Bolin, an associate professor of health policy and management at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health in College Station. "The doctor doesn't know. The patient doesn't know."

Dr. Alvin Kwok and colleagues published their findings in the Oct. 6 online edition of The Lancet.

It's been well-noted that treatment intensity tends to step up at the end of a person's life, often involving intensive-care stays, ventilators and pulmonary resuscitation in the days before someone dies.

Less is known about surgery at this vulnerable period of life.

By analyzing Medicare claims data the study authors found that, in a group of almost 2 million elderly beneficiaries, all of whom died in 2008, almost one-third had inpatient surgery in the year before they died, almost one in five in the last month of their lives and almost one in 10 in the week before they took their last breath.

As participants progressed in age, the proportion of people undergoing surgery declined: 38.4 percent among 65-year-olds, 35.3 percent at age 80 and 23.6 percent for those between 80 and 90.

The most surgeries were performed in Munster, Ind., and the fewest were done in Honolulu; surgeries tended to be more common in hospitals with more beds available.

An accompanying commentary from Dr. Amy S. Kelley of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City pointed out that Medicare reimbursement rates for surgery are highly lucrative, suggesting that "surgeons and hospitals are often financially motivated to operate, regardless of the patient's preferences or goals."

But other experts disagreed that this might be the case.

"I do not know a single surgeon who says, 'We're going to do this because there's a financial incentive,'" Opelka said. "These patients are absolutely facing the most difficult time in their life, and the profession just doesn't act that way."

Instead, the issue might be one of how the medical community and the larger community might start discussing the inevitability of death.

"We want to do everything we can when we have the opportunity but when we reach a point of futility, we have to have a mature conversation," Opelka said. "It's no longer about getting past an acute, life-threatening situation but the inappropriate prolonging of the dying process, giving the patient dignity and control of a God-given process," he noted.

"We've grown up believing we can get anything and buy anything," Opelka added. "We can't buy eternity."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on end-of-life care.

SOURCES: Frank Opelka, M.D., associate medical director, American College of Surgeons, Washington, D.C., and professor, surgery, and vice chancellor, clinical affairs, Louisiana State University, New Orleans; Jane Bolin, Ph.D., J.D., associate professor, health policy and management, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, College Station, Texas; Oct. 6, 2011, The Lancet, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Medicare patients at risk of long-term institutionalization after hospital stay
2. Enrollment Period for Medicare Starts Early This Year
3. Some Older Americans Overwhelmed by Medicare Options, Study Says
4. Complex choices in Medicare Advantage program may overwhelm seniors, study finds
5. Clinic demonstrates improved quality of care resulting in cost savings for Medicare
6. No Increase in Medicare Drug Premiums in 2012
7. Study Finds Savings From Medicares Drug Plan Extend Beyond Cost of Meds
8. Debt ceiling agreement essential to prevent disruption of care for Medicare & Medicaid patients
9. Medicare Will Pay for Prostate Cancer Drug
10. Most Medicare Patients With Cancer Get Good Surgical Care: Study
11. Poll Finds Little Support for GOP Plan to Privatize Medicare
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Many Medicare Patients Get Surgeries in Last Year of Life: Study
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room , the largest network of ... Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , “We are pleased to ... said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First Choice Emergency Room. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin Johnson has dedicated ... has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his patients. The procedure ... doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons use to ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a matter ... bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who set ... , Research from PsychTests.com reveals that behind the tendency to set low ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those ... deal with these feelings, many turn to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol ... of Marne, Michigan, has released tools for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to extreme mood ... something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there was a ... children and say he was going to kill them. If we were driving on ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 ... announced the addition of the " Global Markets ... This report focuses ... an updated review, including its applications in various applications. ... market, which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers ... Market analysis in the report includes the following: ... Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  MedSource announced today ... its e-clinical software solution of choice.  This latest ... possible value to their clients by offering a ... preferred relationship establishes nowEDC as the EDC platform ... MedSource,s full-service clients.  "nowEDC has long been a ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: