Physicians are more likely to use hospice and intensive care at end of life

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New research suggests that US physicians are more likely to use hospice and intensive or critical care units in the last months of life than non-physicians. Hospitalization rates were similar.

The retrospective study analyzed fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries across the United States using Medicare Part A claims data from 2008 to 2010 for 9947 decedent physicians and a random sample of 192,006 Medicare decedents.

"Our findings seem to run exactly counter to the prevailing message that doctors die different and better — it turns out doctors are human too," said Dr. Daniel Matlock, lead author of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society article. "Also, we think this raises concerns that the high utilization seen at the end-of-life is a larger, systems issue."

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