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Columbus Dispatch: Number of Americans Dying in Hospitals is Decreasing

End-of-life care isn’t something everyone is prepared to talk about. However, research indicates that for many Americans, it’s not as difficult of a topic as it used to be.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study with results showing an increase in the number of people dying in homes, rather than in hospitals. 29.8% of natural deaths occurred in hospitals, while 30.7% happened in homes. 20.8% of people died in nursing homes.

This is the first time in over half a century that an increase like this has been reported, yet health care providers have been forecasting this change for years.

For Charles von Gunten, MD, vice president of medical affairs for OhioHealth Hospice and Palliative Medicine, there’s a simple explanation.

“This isn’t just a fad,” Dr. von Gunten told Columbus Dispatch reporter Max Filby in a recent interview. “There was a time when everyone’s pending death was treated as a surprise, and most people thought they should be rushed to the hospital.”

As people get more comfortable talking about their end-of-life plans and decisions, a preference for in-home, hospice-style care has become increasingly popular amongst those nearing their final days. As many as half as of all Ohioans who die of natural causes receive hospice service at home, in a nursing home or at a hospice facility.

Dr. von Gunten said he won’t be surprised if this number continues to grow as people become even more open-minded about discussing death than they were in the past. For many, it’s the comfort of having their friends, families and memories close by that matters the most.

To read the full story by the Columbus Dispatch, click on their logo below.

To learn more about hospice services at OhioHealth, click here.