Top 4 Primary Diagnoses for Hospice Patients

With the responsibility of caring for and supporting hospice patients in mind, healthcare providers must be adequately prepared for treating the diagnoses associated with each terminally ill patient. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) released an annual review of the 1.6 to 1.7 million hospice patients from 2013 to 2014 that indicated trends in the number of patients with top-ranking terminal illnesses. Using this report, healthcare professionals can better meet medical supply challenges in hospice while also educating and supplying their staff with necessary resources to handle every diagnosis from the most common to the most challenging.

Top 4 primary diagnoses for hospice patients
In the 1970s when hospice care was first instituted, individuals with cancer primarily comprised the population of hospice patients. Now, these medical services oversee a broader scope of patients, from those with severe physical limitations to those with an evident decline in cognitive abilities. According to the NHPCO, the leading primary diagnoses for hospice patients in 2014 were the following:

1. Cancer: 36.6 percent
Cancer continues to be the number one diagnosis for hospice patients in the U.S with 36.6 percent in 2014, up 0.01 percent from the previous year. Though cancer still dominates the rankings, new advancements in the treatment of cancer have led to gradual declines in the number of hospice admissions and deaths from this terminal illness. Cancer is the cause of less than 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S.

2. Dementia: 14.8 percent
Dementia accounts for 14.8 percent of hospice patients, topping the non-cancer diagnoses tracked by the NHPCO. This condition includes a group of thinking and social symptoms that interfere with daily communication, thought and functions. As one of the most common terminal diagnoses, end stage dementia necessitates detailed care to treat patients who may not be able to perform basic functions without assistance and present with other infections or symptoms as described by the Stanford School of Medicine.

3. Heart Disease: 14.7 percent
Heart disease is often synonymous with cardiovascular disease. This condition refers to the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In 2016-2017, there was an increase in the percentage of hospice patients with heart disease, from 13.4 percent to 14.7 percent.

4. Lung Disease: 9.3 percent
Lung disease admissions decreased slightly from 9.9 percent to 9.3 percent. There are 24 million U.S. patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Lung Institute. Patients with stage 4 COPD are more likely to enter hospice care because of their shorter life expectancy.

Hospice care providers need to be aware of common diagnoses and conditions in order to be properly prepared. Concordance Healthcare Solutions has been supporting hospice and palliative care for many years. We know the industry and we have the supplies and management tools you need to operate in a cost-effective manner while providing compassionate care. Subscribe below and stay in the know!

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