Chest patients most likely to die in hospital, says report

Two thirds of people would like to die at home, but only 13 per cent of those with chest disease (other than lung cancer) do so, says a new report.

They are more likely than patients with any other condition to die in hospital, according to the report, ‘Deaths from Respiratory Diseases: Implications for End of Life Care in England’.

The report, published by the NHS national end-of-life intelligence network, notes that, though some die in hospices and nursing homes, 69 per cent of people with respiratory conditions other than lung cancer die in hospital – compared with an average of 58 per cent of all deaths.

Only one death in 10 involving pneumonia or acute respiratory infection takes place at home. But people with long-term conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which could more easily be managed at home, are also at high risk of dying in hospital, it says.

 ‘COPD is marked by acute worsening of symptoms such as breathlessness,’ says Dr Julia Verne, lead author of the report and director of the South West Public Health Observatory.

‘The distress and anxiety arising from these episodes probably contributes to the high proportion of deaths that take place in hospitals. 

‘Staff should have the training and confidence to provide care that meets these needs in the community.’

Janet Wright

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