More than 20% of terminally ill patients in the U.S. die in expensive intensive-care units, although nine out of 10 Americans say they would prefer a low-tech approach to death, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Analyzing 552,157 deaths in six states using 1999 hospital discharge data, researchers found that 38% of the deaths occurred in the hospital and 22% in the ICU. Extrapolated nationally, more than half a million Americans die annually in ICUs. End-of-life ICU use was highest among infants, at 43% of ICU deaths, and lowest for people over 85, at 14%. The study appears in the March issue of Critical Care Medicine.
By the Numbers
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