Article Text

other Versions

Offering older hospitalised patients the choice to die in their preferred place
  1. David Jonathan Ahearn1,
  2. Niamh Nidh2,
  3. Arun Kallat2,
  4. Yousouf Adenwala2,
  5. Surendra Varman2
  1. 1Department of Elderly Medicine, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Department of Elderly Medicine, Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Jonathan Ahearn, Department of Elderly Medicine, Wythenshawe Hospital, Southmoor Road, Manchester, UK; davidjahearn{at}


Background A significant proportion of older people state a preference to die at home. However, the vast majority of people in hospital recognised as dying subsequently die there.

Objectives To identify the proportion of older people dying in hospital where the possibility of ending life elsewhere was explored. To identify factors that could support hospital staff to enable patients’ wishes to be met.

Methods Retrospective case-note review of 100 older patients (>75 years) who died during 2009 in an English Hospital.

Results Age range 75–97 years. Time from admission to death ranged from 0–118 days (median 8.5). 16% died within the first 48 h, rising to 30% for those from care homes. In only 8 patients was a potential alternative place of death discussed. Although subjective, in 10 patients it was considered admission could have been avoided through Advance Care Planning (ACP) to allow patients with poor prognosis to die in their normal place of residence or a hospice. 55% of Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitation orders were made within 48 h of admission. 38% were commenced on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), 1–504 h before death (median 16).

Conclusions In few cases are the preferred places of death discussed in older people who die in our hospital. Although hospital admission was largely appropriate, in a minority judicious ACP could have avoided death in hospital. We recommend (1) increased use of ACP, with appropriate practicalities planned in advance (2) wide-scale introduction of the ‘Rapid Discharge Home of the Dying Patient pathway’ (3) routinely discussing preferred place of death in appropriate key situations (eg, discussion of resuscitation status or commencing the LCP).

  • Palliative Care
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Organisation of health services < Health Services Administration & Management
  • advance care planning
  • place of death

Statistics from

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.