Improvements needed in palliative care

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 55, No. 5, June 2013, Page 234 News

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that the percentage of cancer patients who died in Canadian hospitals in 2011–2012 varied significantly from province to province, from 39% in Bri­tish Columbia to 69% in Manitoba (data from Quebec were not available).

The report shows that although most patients do not want to die in hospital, almost half of Canadians are doing so, possibly due to a lack of availability of home care or hospice services in their area. The provincial variations shown in the report could point to areas in need of better access to palliative care services.

The report, entitled End-of-Life Hospital Care for Cancer Patients, showed that of the 25 000 cancer pa­tients who died in hospital in 2011–2012, 22% had been admitted to acute care with a sole diagnosis of palliative care. Another 5% were admitted as alternate level of care patients. 

Twenty-three percent of cancer patients were admitted to acute care multiple times in their last 28 days of life, a number that rose to 30% for those living in rural areas. Furthermore, 70% of patients visited emergency departments at least once during this final period of their lives. The report can be viewed at

. Improvements needed in palliative care. BCMJ, Vol. 55, No. 5, June, 2013, Page(s) 234 - News.

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