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dying patients •

1 in 8 people that chose to sped their remaining days at home didn’t receive a medical visit before they died.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – According to the latest research, not all dying patients receive the best medical care available for them. It seems that only 1 in 8 Medicare patients that were cared for either in a nursing home or at home did not receive the visit of a social worker, nurse or doctor. The numbers are even higher if the dying person was African-American and taking his or hers last breaths on a Sunday.

Joan Teno, the lead researcher of the study and a medicine professor at the Washington University in Seattle stated that starting with this January 1st, an additional payment was added to Medicare. The payment covers the intensity of the service, meaning that a patient will be visited by a social worker or a nurse up to 4 hours a day. The focus is especially set on the last two days of the life of a patient when they could experience an increase of symptoms or an increase in pain levels.

Dr. Teno and her team analyzed an average of 3, 4000 hospices. The conclusions of the research were that approximately 8 percent of the dying patients were not visited by any authorized medical personnel in their last two days of life.

According to the researchers, the families that choose to take care of their dying family members at home need to be better educated as they represent the primary caregiver of the patient.

Medicare only paid a single amount of money for every patient without taking into account the amount of time the professional caregiver spent with the patient or the frequency of the caregiver’s visits. But that was before the latest changes that took place on January 1st.

Dr. Teno’s study was funded by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services in the United States. And apart from discovering the occasional weekend overviews of professional caregivers, the study was also used to convince the agency to modify its policy on care payment starting with 2016.

The new system of payment has a better-organized structure that allows the dying patients to benefit from more frequent visits from professional caregivers like social workers, nurses, and doctors.

Dr. Teno also underlined the fact that not all dying patients receive the best medical care since they prefer to stay at home with their families. Even though a professional visits each day in the last week of the patient’s life, Dr. Teno insists that the family should be better educated when it comes to end of the life care.

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