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  • Queen's Institute of Healthcare Improvement

Expensive Endings: Reining in the High Cost of End-of-Life Care in Canada

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Cost of living is a consistent concern amongst Canadians, but according to an October 2021 review by Kieran Quinn, Sarina Isenberg, and James Downar of the C.D. Howe Institute, so is the cost of dying.

The majority of terminally ill Canadians wish to die in their own homes. Yet, 61 percent of those patients die in hospital. Compare these numbers to the US, where only 20 percent of patients die in a hospital bed, and it is clear there are palliative problems that need solving.

From inadequate options for patients to slow transitions to palliative patient approaches, the authors of the review address several problems in the Canadian approach to end-of-life care. Their proposed solution? Stop treating end-of-life as acute care and start listening to the needs of patients and their caregivers. Dying patients are receiving high-cost low-reward healthcare, and it’s costing us a fortune.

Adopting a more supportive approach comes down to a few metrics. Patients nearing the end require an abundance of options for hospital discharge, and their home caregivers require investment and support.

Canada’s current aggressive, acute approach is failing patients medically and not giving them the comfort they deserve during their final days. To read more about the problems and solutions identified by Quinn, Isenberg, and Downar, click here.

Summary by Erin Ford

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