175 Where Do People Die?

Martha Lally; Suzanne Valentine-French; and Dinesh Ramoo

Gathering statistics on the location of death is not a simple matter. Those with terminal illnesses may be going through the process of dying at home or in a nursing home, only to be transported to a hospital in the final hours of their life. Thus, it should not be a surprise that in the United States, more Americans die in hospitals than in any other settings. According to Statistics Canada (2022), 54.7 percent of deaths occur in the hospital, with 44.9 percent in non-hospital settings and 0.4 percent unknown.

There has been a decline in the number of people dying in hospital in the United States over the last decade (Hall, Levant, and DeFrances, 2013). This decline can be tied to two changes in the US healthcare system: Medicare and other private insurance plans covering the cost of hospice care, and Medicare paying hospitals to encourage less use of inpatient hospital care (Institute of Medicine, 1997).

Internationally, 54 percent of deaths in over forty-five nations occurred in hospitals, with the most frequent occurring in Japan (78 percent) and the least frequent occurring in China (20 percent), according to a study by Broad et al. (2013). They also found that for older adults, 18 percent of deaths occurred in some form of residential care, such as nursing homes, and that for each decade after age sixty-five, the rate of dying in a such settings increased 10 percent. In addition, the number of women dying in residential care was considerably higher than that of men.

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Where Do People Die? by Martha Lally; Suzanne Valentine-French; and Dinesh Ramoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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