How Americans are Overtreated, to Death

Americans are increasingly being treated to death.  They are spending more time in hospitals in their final days, trying last-ditch treatments that often buy only weeks of time, and drowning in medical expenses to the extent that they are now a leading cause of bankruptcies.

More than 80 percent of patients with a long, progressive illness such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care when they are dying.  But the numbers show that's not what is happening.

According to AOL News:

“The average time spent in hospice and palliative care, which stresses comfort and quality of life once an illness is incurable, is falling ... Hospitalizations during the last six months of life are rising: from 1,302 per 1,000 Medicare recipients in 1996 to 1,441 in 2005”.

Although doctors can't predict how soon a patient will die, they usually know when an illness has become incurable. Nonetheless, many of them practice "exhaustion medicine" -- treating until there are no more options left to try.

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