Utilization of Hospice Services in a Population of Patients With Huntington's Disease.
CONTEXT: Although the early and middle stages of Huntington's disease (HD) and its complications have been well described, less is known about the course of late-stage illness. In particular, little is known about the population of patients who enroll in hospice. OBJECTIVES: Our goal is to describe the characteristics of patients with HD who enrolled in hospice. METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of electronic medical record data from 12 not-for-profit hospices in the United States from 2008 to 2012. RESULTS: Of the 164,032 patients admitted to these hospices, 101 (0.06%) had a primary diagnosis of HD. Their median age was 57 (IQR 48-65) and 53 (52.5%) were women. Most patients were cared for by a spouse (n = 36, 36.6%) or adult child (n = 20, 19.8%). At the time of admission, most patients were living either at home (n = 39, 38.6%) or in a nursing home (n = 41, 40.6%). All were either bedbound or could ambulate only with assistance. The most common symptom reported during enrollment in hospice was pain (n = 34, 33.7%) followed by anxiety (n = 30, 29.7%), nausea (n = 18, 17.8%), and dyspnea (n = 10, 9.9%). Patients had a median length of stay in hospice of 42 days, which was significantly longer than that of other hospice patients in the sample (17 days), P < 0.001. Of the 101 patients who were admitted to hospice, 73 died, 11 were still enrolled at the time of data analysis, and 17 left hospice either because they no longer met eligibility criteria (n = 14, 13.7%) or because they decided to seek treatment for other medical conditions (n = 3, 3.0%). Of the 73 patients who died while on hospice, most died either in a nursing home (n = 29; 40%) or a hospital (n = 27; 37%). Seventeen patients (23%) died at home. No patient that started in a facility died at home. CONCLUSION: Patients with HD are admitted to hospice at a younger age compared with other patients (57 vs. 76 years old) but have a significant symptom burden and limited functional status. Although hospice care emphasizes the importance of helping patients to remain in their homes, only a minority of these patients were able to die at home.
Johnson, MO; Frank, S; Mendlik, M; Casarett, D
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