Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hospital Type and Likelihood of Feeding Tube Use

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that nursing home residents with advance dementia have starkly different odds of being given feeding tubes depending on which hospital they are sent to.

According to the study, some hospitals used feeding tubes in as many as 1 in ever 3 patients, while other hospitals used feeding tubes in as few as 1 in ever 100 patients.

Not surprisingly, hospitals that were more aggressive about providing end-of-life care were more likely to insert feeding tubes. Also, likely to use them were large hospitals and for-profit hospitals.

The sad implication of this study is that it suggests hospital protocols become more important in deciding end-of-life behaviors than family and patient wishes.

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