Why It Matters

Many of us do not die in the way we would have chosen

  • 73% of Americans would prefer to die at home1, but anywhere between 20-50% of Americans die in hospital settings.2
  • More than 80% of Californians say their loved ones know exactly or have a good idea of what their wishes would be if they were in a persistent coma, but only 50% say theyve talked to them about their preferences.3
  • Eight out of ten people say it is very or somewhat important to write down EOL wishes, but only 36% actually have written instructions.4 
  • According a NY Times article,Dr. John E. Wennberg of Dartmouth Medical School, the chief author of the study, said doctors and hospitals that provided more care, or more intensive care, did not necessarily achieve better results for patients. He stated, Some chronically ill and dying Americans are receiving too much care more than they and their families actually want or benefit from5

And it comes at a great cost

  • A study by the California Healthcare Foundation compared patients who received palliative care services (i.e. reducing the severity of symptoms, not trying to cure the disease) versus those who did not over the last three days of life. The cost for patients who received palliative care services was $492 versus $2,671 for those who did not, creating a savings of $2,179 in the last three days of life.6

People don't talk about death, which means that often times, people arent able to die in the way that they lived with intent. Some people die in a hospital when they would have preferred to be at home. Others are kept on life sustaining treatments way beyond the point they would have wanted. This comes at a high cost to us, our families and the healthcare system. Communicate your wishes. Engage with Grace.

1 http://www.publicagenda.org/citizen/issueguides/right-to-die/publicview/people-concerns
2 http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1282180
3 California Healthcare Foundation, “Attitudes Toward End-of-Life Care in California,” 3. (Lake Research Partners, November 2006).
4 Ibid.
5 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/health/policy/07care.html
6 “When Compassion is the Cure: The Case for Hospital-Based Palliative Care.” California Healthcare Foundation, 2008, p 31.