Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schumacher Quoted in Oncology Times

NHPCO's Don Schumacher is quoted in an article in Oncology Times, "Helping Prevent Suicide in Cancer Patients," (September 25, 2010 issue). The article by Robert Carlson begins:

"Oncologists who say they've never had a patient commit suicide simply might not know. The patient who doesn't return for treatment or reportedly died of an accidental drug overdose could have decided, in their suffering, that life was not worth living."

Dr. Schumacher offers some insight from his 30 years of running a hospice program. This is an informative article for oncologists and other healthcare providers.

Read the article online! What are you thoughts?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Researchers Find that Cancer Patients who Disenroll from Hospice have Increased Hospitalizations and are less likely to Die at Home

Disenrollment can have a Physical and Financial Toll

(Alexandria, Va) – According to a new study, patients with terminal cancer that disenrolled from hospice care had significantly higher rates of hospitalizations – including admission to the emergency department and intensive care unit – than patients who remained under the care of hospice. Furthermore, patients who disenrolled from hospice were more likely to die in the hospital than patients who remained with hospice until their deaths.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization hopes that healthcare professionals and policy makers will take time to look at this and other recent studies that help provide a better understanding of both the cost and quality-of-life benefits associated with the hospice experience, including honoring a patient’s wish to be able to die at home.

The study, which was led by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found that:
  • 33.9 percent of the patients who disenrolled from hospice care were admitted to an emergency department, in contrast with only 3.1 percent of hospice patients.
  • 39.8 percent of disenrolled patients were admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, in contrast with only 1.6 percent of hospice patients.
  • Disenrolled patients spent an average of 19.3 days in the hospital, whereas hospice patients spent an average of 6.7 days.
  • 9.6 percent of disenrolled patients died in the hospital, compared to only 0.2 percent of hospice patients.
  • Costs of care for patients with cancer who disenrolled from hospice were nearly five times higher than for patients who remained with hospice.
Impact of Hospice Disenrollment on Healthcare Use and Medical Expenditures for Patients with Cancer” is published in the October 1, 2010 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“This study illustrates the tangible value of hospice care to patients who want to die at home, with the support of the hospice interdisciplinary team, surrounded by family rather than in a hospital connected to machines. There are significant emotional and financial benefits to the patient, family and healthcare system when hospices are caring for people,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “In my 30 years running a hospice, I heard time and time again from families that wanted to keep their dying loved one at home.”

“There are numerous reasons why a patient may disenroll from hospice, and while those factors were not part of this study, we are reminded of the importance of advising patients and families as to the potential toll that might accompany leaving hospice care prematurely. A toll that may be physical, emotional, and financial,” added Schumacher.

Wrote the study authors, “Policy makers have called for tightening eligibility restrictions for the MHB (Medicare Hospice Benefit) as part of a wider effort to reduce high Medicare expenditures; our results suggest that addressing hospice disenrollment may be an effective means of reducing Medicare expenditures for hospice users without restriction access to the MHB.”

Further recommendations suggest that oncologists explore outpatient palliative care services that offer multidisciplinary care, symptom control, and end-of-life planning expertise in a context that enables a patient and family to maintain contact with the oncology clinic.

In his plenary address at NHPCO’s “Developing the Continuum of Care” conference held in Boston on August 5, Dr. Schumacher encouraged all hospice providers to explore ways that they can offer “pre-hospice” palliative care services in their communities and work with other providers to ensure patients and families have the right care at the right time from diagnosis on through bereavement for family.

More than 1.5 million patients with life-limiting illness receive care every year from the nation’s hospices.

Information about hospice and advance care planning is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections. Visit or call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NHPCO's 11th CTC is the best value!

It's not too late to attend! Make a sound investment in your professional education!

With over 120 concurrent sessions, innovative content from leading experts and best practices that you can take back to your program and advance your level of care, NHPCO’s 11th CTC offers the best value for hospice and palliative professionals from all disciplines.

Advanced Registration Rates are extended! While online registration has closed, you can still register onsite and receive the advance registration rate!

Experience all NHPCO’s 11th CTC has to offer:
  • Four powerhouse plenary sessions
  • Over 120 educational sessions
  • Regulatory and Pediatric Tracks
  • Discipline-Specific Networking Meetings
  • NHPCO's Job Fair and over 70 Exhibitors with new products and services
  • Discounted Marketplace items with opportunity for FREE SHIPPING
  • FREE Full-Day Preconference Seminar – We Honor Veterans
  • FREE Preconference Event - Hearing the Voices of "The Soon Departed
  • Poster Presentations
  • Discounted FHSSA IMPACT Fund Event ticket prices
Plus – Your conference registration includes a daily continental breakfast, 2 lunches and a reception featuring heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Additional Educational Opportunities:
  • Hospice Manager Development Program- Foundational Course
  • Seven Preconference Seminars
Attend this year’s Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive, September 13-15. Visit the CTC webpage for more information.