May 20, 2009

Dying at home improves hospital efficiency

As a way to help free up hospital beds, a Canadian researcher suggests people should be encouraged to die at home rather than in a hospital.

University of Alberta researcher Donna Wilson says that there's been a dramatic change in the location of death of Canadians. Up until 1994, about 80 percent died in a hospital, but that number has dropped to 61 percent.

Wilson says she would like to see the number drop further to 40 percent as baby boomers age because this could reduce wait lists and free up hospital beds for those who need life-saving treatment or surgery.

It's also a much more dignified death for a family member, Wilson says.

Wilson calculated that in the next 20 years the number of people dying could double and if death rates in hospital stay at 80 percent it means a potential tie-up of every single bed in Canada for three days of the year -- because each person takes up a bed for an average of 10 days.