A recent study has found that one in three patients in Scotland’s hospital will die within 12 months, with almost one dying during their hospital stay.
University of Glasgow researchers monitored the progress of 10,000 patients at 25 Scottish hospitals on 31 March 2010. This study examined the patients’ health, treatment and age on a particular day, with a view to end-of-life care strategies within hospitals.
Of these patients, 3098 died within one year and 9% died during admission. It was found that males were at higher risk of death than females, as were those over the age of 85 when compared to those under the age of 60. In excess of 50% of the male patients aged 85 and over died within one year.
The lead author of this study, Professor David Clark, has stated that the study indicates that acute hospitals have the care of people coming to the end of their lives as their core business.
The chances of dying in hospital have been on the increase, despite survey results suggesting that most people will probably die in their own homes.
According to an international comparison of 34 countries done recently by the University of Auckland, it was found that 59% of Scottish deaths took place in hospital, with the number being very much the same for England and Wales. This indicates that British hospitals are among the world’s top 10 countries where most deaths occur in hospital settings.
According to Professor Clark the next step is to determine a method to identify the patients that are nearing the end of their lives. This requires a suitable method of identification upon admission to the hospital or during the initial ward assessment. He feels that medical focus should be placed on this determination right now.
This will be an extremely difficult task for medical staff to discuss with family members. However, a hospital setting is the most appropriate place to discuss end-of-life wants and needs.
Image credit: Javier Sánchez