Hospital use for COPD patients during the last few years of their life

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Little is known about what happens to COPD patients during their final years of life, in particular in terms of hospital use. We linked the Swedish Mortality and Inpatient Registers to examine this research question during the period 1987-2000. In year 2000, 2331 fatalities were diagnosed with COPD as the underlying cause of death. About 3% of individuals had not been admitted to hospital at all prior to their death, whereas 15% had never been admitted for COPD (but for other reasons). More than 68% of all COPD admissions and 74% of all days in hospital occurred in the 3.5 years before death, indicating longer stays closer to death. The last 6 months of life accounted for 22% and 28% of all COPD admissions and days, respectively. Other causes accounted for nearly 50% of all admissions, with a more limited increase during the final years. In conclusion, there is a very variable hospital use among these COPD patients. Use increases almost exponentially as the end approaches. Finally, COPD patients often have a number of concomittant diseases which may affect diagnosis and healthcare resource use. The economic and policy implications of these main findings need to be further examined. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Andersson, F. L., Svensson, K., & Gerhardsson de Verdier, M. (2006). Hospital use for COPD patients during the last few years of their life. Respiratory Medicine, 100(8), 1436–1441.

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