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NHPCO Reports Growth in Number of Hospice Patients Served, 1.4 Million, With a Wider Range of Illnesses Seen by Providers

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month and in honor of this time of expanded awareness, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization released updated facts and figures about hospice care in the U.S.

Statistics Indicate Growth

Annually, NHPCO reports on hospice trends and provides updated information on the field. Newly released data reflecting 2007 usage of hospice, indicates that:

-- 38.8 percent of all deaths in the U.S. were under the care of hospice,

up from 35 percent the previous year.

-- 1.4 million people with a life-limiting illness received care from the

nation's 4,700 hospice providers.

-- Average length of service increased to 67.4 days (from 59.8 days in


-- 30.8 percent of those served by hospice died or were discharged in seven

days or less.

-- 13.1 percent of those served died or were discharged in 180 days or


Non-Cancer Diagnoses Account for More Patients

Additionally, the top five diagnoses among hospice patients reported by NHPCO show the continued trend of less cancer patients among those served. Non-cancer diagnoses accounted for 58.7 percent of patients last year. The top five diagnoses seen in hospice for 2007 are as follows:

Cancer 41.3 percent

Heart Disease 11.8 percent

Debility unspecified 11.2 percent

Dementia, includes Alzheimer's 10.1 percent

Lung Disease 7.9 percent

Hospice Patients Live Longer on Average

Hospice care may prolong the lives of some terminally ill patients. In a recent study, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for non-hospice patients. Researchers studied 4,493 terminally ill patients with either congestive heart failure or cancer of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, or prostate. Longer lengths of survival were found in four of the six disease categories studied.

National Hospice/Palliative Care Month

Throughout the month of November, hospice and palliative care organizations across the nation are working to promote awareness, both in the professional healthcare community and among the public. For the 30th year in a row, the White House issued a National Hospice Month proclamation for November (

"November is an important time of year to reach out and help people understand the benefits of hospice and palliative care. Some people mistakenly think hospice is a place. While there are hospice facilities, hospice is not a place but a model of care created to help people live with dignity, comfort, and compassion at the end of life," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "Hospice focuses on quality of life and not on a cure."

"Palliative care works to bring this philosophy of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness," Schumacher noted.

Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. They also serve as valuable community resources about care options.

Additional information about hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning is available from NHPCO's Caring Connections. For information, to find a local hospice, or to get a free state-specific advance directive form, visit or call the HelpLine at 800/658-8898.

NHPCO's new Facts and Figures ( res_2008.pdf) report is available at


Jon Radulovic

Vice President of Communications

Ph: 703-837-3139

NHPCO is the oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the U.S. NHPCO's mission is to lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life.

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
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